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BCC President Backs Florida Governor's Affordable Degree Plan

November 26, 2012 - The president of Brevard Community College says he strongly supports Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to have state colleges offer four-year degrees for $10,000 to help make higher education more affordable.

Scott announced the plan Monday as the “Governor’s $10,000 Degree Challenge,” saying state colleges should find innovative ways to offer a bachelor’s degree at that price in fields that will provide graduates the best opportunity for employment.

The goal is to address the problem of rising college costs and student debt, said Scott.

“As a former community college student myself, I know how important it is for us to keep costs low while working to connect students with degree fields that prepare them for great careers,” he said.

The plan drew praise from BCC President, Dr. Jim Richey, who said it’s a perfect fit for the College’s mission to provide high-quality education and keep costs low.

For instance, BCC is one of the few public institutions of higher learning in Florida that did not raise tuition this fiscal year, saving students at least $1.4 million, he said.

“We're strongly supportive of Gov. Scott's plan and intend to start examining four-year degrees that we could offer for $10,000, which would put more educational and career opportunities within the reach of more students,” said Richey.

He added the plan comes at the right time for BCC because it will begin offering four-year degrees in August 2013 for the first time in its history and become a state college.

Initially, the College will offer a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Organizational Management with two concentrations — general management and health care management.

“This could augment and enhance the four-year degree efforts we already have under way,” said Richey. "It’s an exciting prospect that could further help our community.”

Many others expressed support for Gov. Scott’s plan as well, including Randy Hanna, chancellor of the 28-member Florida College System of which BCC is part.

“Florida must be focused on affordability in higher education. The efforts of our colleges to work to produce baccalaureate degrees at a lower cost should provide a major benefit to our students and help meet Florida's workforce needs,” said Hanna.

Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart also called the plan an important step forward.

“Florida needs to ensure that students have access to college and are able to afford that next step. Aligning college accessibility with affordability enables our students to pursue higher education and join the workforce,” she said.

Said Gary Chartrand, Chair of Florida’s State Board of Education: “One of the challenges that face students in today’s economy as they seek a college degree is the cost. Graduating with a large student loan debt deters some young people from going on to college, even though statistics show the value of a degree in lifetime earning potential.

“Governor Scott’s $10,000 degree challenge is an innovative approach that will help keep a college degree within reach of a broader section of students.”

The Florida College System remains the primary point of access to higher education in the state.

Some 66 percent of the state’s high school graduates pursuing postsecondary education begin at a Florida college, and 82 percent of freshman and sophomore minority students in public higher education attend one of the 28 colleges.

Today, 22 of Florida’s 28 state colleges are authorized to offer almost 150 baccalaureate programs. BCC will become the 23rd when its four-year degrees start next year.