Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The eyes of Texas are upon university reform once again, and soon the rest of the country may be singing the song of our second largest state.
Earlier this month, Governor Rick Perry announced his education initiatives for the upcoming legislative session. He called for a four-year tuition freeze, outcomes-based funding for institutions, and increased fiscal transparency for students and their parents. Most important, he threw down the gauntlet by renewing his challenge for public colleges and universities to create more $10,000 bachelor’s degree programs.
Of all the governor’s proposed reforms, the $10,000 bachelor’s degree has by far the most revolutionary implications, for Texas and, if successful, America.
In his 2011 State of the State address, the governor challenged public higher education to develop degrees costing no more than $10,000. The call was not issued in a vacuum. Today, total student-loan debt has risen to roughly $1 trillion dollars—an amount necessary to keep up with tuitions that, nationally, have risen 440 percent in the last 25 years. This rate of increase is twice that of health-care costs. In Texas, average tuition at public colleges and universities has increased an average of five percent per year since 1994.