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‘$10,000 Degree’ now offered at four Texas colleges

UH in 4 provides way of bringing excellent education down to a more competitive rate. | Fiona Legesse/The Cougar

On Dec. 28, 2018, Texas rang in the New Year by taking steps to making bachelor degrees in the state more affordable.

In a movement that former Gov. Rick Perry started back in 2011, entitled the “$10,000 Degree,” four schools have undergone the challenge of creating a separate, more  affordable approach to a bachelor degree and started implementing the new program into their curriculum.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Tarleton State University, South Texas College and Texas A&M University-Commerce are guinea pigs for the degree plan in hopes of encouraging more students, specifically nontraditional students —those over the age of 25— to enroll back in school.

University of Houston Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Paula Myrick Short provided some background information on how UH chose to respond to the proposal of a reduced-cost degree.

We want to be cautious in what we develop and implement,” Short said. “Our UH in 4 program for new freshman is our most robust effort to cut the cost of obtaining a degree and in a timely manner.”

Over 70 percent of the incoming freshman in the past three years have saved through the UH in 4 program, Short said

Students on campus have noted the importance of the UH in 4 program to their education.

“I probably could not afford college if I didn’t have UH in 4,” psychology sophomore Kimberly Nguyen said. “I pay for my own tuition and I would have to take out more loans and probably be even more in debt without it.”

The colleges partaking in this program each offer a specific degree for participating students. Some of the degrees offered include criminal justice, computer technology and applied sciences.

The program combines students’ high school credit, community college credit, work experience and courses they will take to achieve this “$10,000 Degree” in the shortest amount of time possible.

The difference between this degree and other affordable degree programs is twofold.

First, candidates must have the credits to be eligible. Students must have credit from high school, as well as up to 40 credit hours of community college classes.

Second, the students must learn a skill set in the workforce while simultaneously taking classes that pertain to their degree. For example, if students are in the computer technology program, then they are expected to have either completed technical school or be attending it at the same time in order to seamlessly enter the IT field.

This type of plan targets the nontraditional, working students who already have credit or work experience and gives them the opportunity to come back and put in the minimum amount of time necessary in order to receive their college degrees.

“I think it would be interesting to learn a skill while being in class, but I like the regular college approach,” marketing sophomore Alonda Cruz said.

Supply chain and logistics technology junior Wesley Brown sees it differently.  

“I think it would be nice to learn a skill in case my degree doesn’t pan out,” Brown said.

While UH is in the planning phase of implementing this in several of its engineering courses, Short says that she sees the UH in 4 program as a much more applicable money saver to the average coog.

“UH in 4 demonstrates that from 2014, UH has worked to develop a lower cost degree experience for students that has raised our 4-year graduation rates substantially, helping our UH students enter the workforce years sooner than without UH in 4 and without paying for unwanted credit hours,” Short said. 

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