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ERIC Number: EJ995751
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Mar-4
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Getting to the Bottom of the $10,000 Bachelor's Degree
Kelderman, Eric
Chronicle of Higher Education, Mar 2013
In August 2010, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, speaking informally at a technology conference, said technological innovations should be able to lower the cost of college to $2,000 a year. Mr. Gates's comments reportedly caught the attention of Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican of Texas, who came up with his own back-of-the-envelope estimate of how much college should cost: Multiplying $2,000 times four and adding $2,000 for the cost of books or other learning materials, the governor decided that a bachelor's degree should cost $10,000. In February 2011, Mr. Perry challenged public colleges in his state to create a $10,000 degree. Several of them have answered the call. From Texas, the idea of a $10,000 bachelor's degree has spread like an Internet meme to governors in Florida and Wisconsin, a state legislator in California, and some national online colleges. But the growing attention to the bargain-basement bachelor's degree is not just an indication of how an idea can quickly take hold with the public and lawmakers. The idea itself has become a kind of Rorschach test for how people view American higher education, what they think its role should be, and whom or what they blame for its shortfalls. Like a lot of things that get passed around on the Internet, Mr. Gates's comments became obscured by the interpretation. What he went on to say was that college costs would diminish because place-based higher education would become "five times less important" in five years. But in the rush to answer the subsequent gubernatorial challenges, the proposals that have emerged in Florida and Texas, in particular, have relied largely on shifting some costs of the traditional college model from the state to some other entity, such as businesses, community colleges, secondary schools, and even the student. In other words, the $10,000 degree will still cost more than $10,000.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida; New York; Texas