New Texas Program Aims to Combat Student Loan Debt

DollarsAs time progresses and the job market requires more education from prospective employees, it is becoming harder and harder to avoid having to obtain a college education. The competition for college admission has made the price of a college education skyrocket, so much so that student loan debt is now in the trillions. Many people who need college degrees are deferring them or avoiding them because it may not be worth the cost. Texas, however, might have the solution.

During his 2011 State of the State Address, Texas governor Rick Perry challenged colleges and universities in the state to create inexpensive degree programs, including a bachelor’s degree that would cost less than $10,000 over four years, in an effort to combat student loan debt. Many schools thought this challenge was impossible, but two universities accepted the challenge: South Texas College and Texas A&M Commerce.

Developed in conjunction with the Texas Higher Education Continuing Board, the programs at the two colleges launched last week. The program is open to students in any major, and students with no previous college credit can earn their bachelor’s degree in three years at a cost of $13,000–$15,000. Students with 90 credit hours can earn their bachelor’s in a single year for a price of $4,500–$6,000, which is a fraction of the cost of what most full-time students pay in one semester!

The program is revolutionary, as it is the first degree program offered by Texas colleges and universities that is competency-based. The coursework is completely online, and students can work at their own pace, advancing to new material after mastering the old. Students in the program pay $750 for each seven-week period they take courses, and this includes the cost of the course textbook.

There are two monumental benefits students gain in this exciting new program. First, unlike in a traditional university setting, students have the ability to work at their own pace, and do not have to wait for other students in their class or the professor to move on to new material. Also, this program awards students a bachelor’s degree emphasizing hands-on application, which is highly appealing to employers. Thus, students who enter into and complete this program are expected to be mid-career professionals and veterans.

Many colleges and universities across the country offer online degree programs and courses for majors, but none are like the new programs at South Texas College and Texas A&M Commerce. The possibility of a three-year bachelor’s degree program for about $15,000 is unheard of elsewhere. The goal of offering these two programs is to eliminate student burdens, making education accessible to more students, and eliminate school burdens by lowering cost and graduating more students in faster time.

There are many options to consider when choosing a college or university, and cost is certainly one of them. If college has been giving you stress lately because of the possibility of student loan debt, then consider the new programs at South Texas College and Texas A&M Commerce. If successful, more programs like this could begin showing up all over the country, completely changing the way we earn degrees.