Dan Logue: $10K college degrees good for students, state
Assemblyman represents the 3rd Assembly District in the Legislature
Editor's note: We asked four people in the community with various ties to education issues to comment on Assemblyman Dan Logue's bill. Below is his idea and people's reaction to it.
Parents and students across California have been struggling for too long to afford the rising costs of our state's public colleges and universities.
In recent years, tuition and fees have skyrocketed, threatening access to the California dream of a higher education for many students.
A recent report by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center found tuition and fees for full time students at California's four-year public colleges and universities have nearly doubled — increasing a whopping 98.3 percent over the past five years.
The average published tuition was $9,022 per year, higher than the national average.
These out of control costs have driven a college education beyond the reach of many, particularly underrepresented students.
For too long, I believe that policymakers in California have had it backward when it comes to making higher education more affordable and accessible in our state.
Many students at our public colleges have a difficult time accessing the classes they need to graduate in four years.
In fact, at many universities, it has become nearly impossible to graduate in less than five or more years.
Many of those who are fortunate enough to graduate on time enter the workforce with a debt of between $30,000 and $60,000 or higher. This is wrong.
Even with our state's ongoing budget problems, I believe that there are common-sense ways that we can lower the cost of college education, help more students attain a four-year degree and increase the chances of them obtaining a well-paying job after graduation.
That is why I have introduced a proposal (Assembly Bill 51) to create a pilot program by which students enrolled in certain majors could earn a bachelor's degree for no more than $10,000, including the costs of textbooks.
Here is how it would work: Students would be eligible if they major in any of the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Students would earn unlimited college course credit still in high school by taking Advanced Placement classes. They would also take classes before and after high school graduation at their local community college, receiving priority enrollment to do so. Then they would transfer to a California State University campus to complete their degree, which should take about 18 months.
My proposal builds on efforts that are already in place to improve coordination between high schools, community colleges and the Cal State system, which the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has said "makes a lot of sense." In the beginning, my proposal would be limited to just three regions of the state, but could be expanded statewide if it proves a success.
But in order to continue to grow our economy and create high-paying jobs in our state, we must find a solution to make college education more affordable for students who want to pursue these high-demand fields.
If we succeed, we will have the trained workforce right here in California that employers are demanding. Unfortunately, current trends indicate that employers more and more are being forced to seek qualified employees from overseas.
The H-1B non-immigrant visa program allows US employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations — typically technology and science fields.
In 2011, the number of foreign employees approved for H-1B visas was 269,652, almost a 40 percent increase over the previous year.
To me, it is a tragedy that many companies have to recruit talent overseas because there isn't the trained workforce in California.
In my view, ensuring that as many students as possible have the college education they need to become our state's next generation of leaders is an important investment in our state's future, and it is my hope that Democrats and Republicans will join with me to support it.
Passing my legislation, I believe, would be a win-win for our students and our economy.
Businessman predicts plan will falter
I have given it some thought, and frankly, I think the plan has little or no chance of success.
The first, and most glaring reason, is Dan Logue, a conservative Republican in California. As a minority, he will have a very hard time getting a majority to truly support his idea.
Secondly, this will require that the university system somehow subsidize these students. I can't see them doing that at all, at least without someone else paying the bill, and shifting the cost of these students to other students just seems wrong to me.
Owner of SYIX.com, an Internet provider
Parent of students worried about details
My wife and I put ourselves through grad school and paid for the first two years of college for our seven kids. We know firsthand the cost of education causes the best and brightest to think twice about incurring debt the size and length of a 30-year mortgage. The Logue bill provides an excellent social value by broadening access to academia and filling jobs with homegrown expertise.
But the devil is in the details.
A $10,000 four-year tuition means either academia takes a pay cut (fat chance), the government subsidizes the program (higher taxes) or the non-STEM student (the arts) pays a higher tuition. I support the bill because of its immense social value, but someone is going to pay the piper, and it's likely to be you, whether you and your kids attend college or not.
Perhaps that is fair since ultimately all of us benefit from a well-educated workforce.
Student finds idea good, but farfetched
I like the idea. As a student at CSU Chico majoring in computer scxience, we absolutely need more people in STEM programs. The $10,000 cost including textbooks seems a little farfetched unless the state issues some way to subsidize the cost of textbooks. I don't think most high school students will find spending around $150 per book per semester as feasible as a college student who uses student loans or scholarship funds to purchase their textbooks.
Graduating from high school with at the very least an associate's degree is very appealing, and if that's all that a student accomplishes through this program, then that in itself is a significant improvement that will yield several new opportunities for graduates.
If students are able to finish their bachelor's degrees in the STEM fields, the workforce in our state will include many more bright, capable individuals in fields where we desperately need them.
Yuba College would partner on idea
Assemblyman Dan Logue contacted me last December to discuss his concept, and I told him at that time that the Yuba Community College District would be a partner.
We are supportive of this initiative that will decrease the cost and time to completion for a bachelor's degree.
An accelerated timeline is already available to students who can begin taking college classes while still in high school; few can participate, however, because of legislative restrictions.
Logue's proposal would establish three pilot projects to reduce those barriers. Representatives from Yuba City High School, Yuba Community College District and CSU Sacramento met with Logue recently and agreed to serve as one of the pilot partnerships in his proposed legislation. The Yuba Community College District will also explore a pilot program with its Woodland Community College.
Yuba Community College District