Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

High Degree of Difficulty

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

High Degree of Difficulty

Article excerpt

How can SCF effectively offer a $10,000 diploma?

The agreement by State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, to meet Gov. Rick Scott's challenge of providing a four-year, $10,000 degree program leaves plenty of questions unanswered.

The most important of these is: How do you do it?

SCF, along with Florida's 22 other state colleges -- all of which have accepted the challenge -- will wrestle with this question over the coming months.

SCF's new president, Carol F. Probstfeld, has appointed a task force to determine which programs could be offered at the reduced tuition level and how one or more of them could be structured. No timetable for finding the answers has been set.

Among the issues that make Scott's challenge so difficult is that Florida state colleges' four-year degree programs -- at a full in- state tuition of $13,000 -- are already a bargain.

The appeal of and the need for those degrees are reflected in an SCF report Tuesday that noted that 6,729 students are enrolled in the college's eight baccalaureate programs -- a 26 percent increase over the number predicted when the programs began three years ago.

Another issue is that Florida's colleges are known for their quality education. Fifteen of them were honored by the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program; only 120 institutions were recognized nationwide, out of of more than 1,000 state and community colleges. Valencia College in Orlando was named the top college in the nation.

It won't be easy

So how do you cut tuition for a program at one of these colleges by about 25 percent and still maintain high quality?

The short answer is: It won't be easy. That all of the colleges have agreed to the challenge might say more about a reluctance to disappoint the governor -- who, with the Legislature, ultimately decides their funding -- than about the accessibility or efficiency of their programs. …

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