How many parents with college graduates living in their basements would have preferred their children to have an opportunity such as that to be offered by A&M–San Antonio?
The A&M system also plans to launch two other degree offerings for just under $10,000: a bachelor of science in business administration from Tarleton State University, and a bachelor of applied sciences in organizational leadership that will be offered through A&M–Commerce and South Texas College.
With these initiatives, Texas may well provide the model for the future of public higher education across the country. Policymakers in other states may want to look to the example of Texas governor Rick Perry, who, in his State of the State Address last year, got the ball rolling by exhorting Texas universities to create college-degree programs that would cost no more than $10,000.
His appeal, made on behalf of Texas’s lower- and middle-income students, met with some skepticism. After all, in 2011, average tuition and fees for Texas universities stood at more than $27,000 for a four-year degree, and most of those concerned were predicting that they would need to go up still further.
Fortunately for Texas’s students and their parents, the A&M system has proven itself worthy of the trust implicit in the governor’s appeal.Although this joint program is new, its ingredients are not. Dual-credit courses and community-college transfer credit have for some time been staples of secondary and higher education. What’s new is the seriousness with which a public university has sought to address out-of-control tuition costs.
There is no good reason that public colleges in the rest of the union could not embark on a similar initiative.
Nor is there a good reason not to start now.
— Thomas K. Lindsay is director of the Center for Higher Education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He served as deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities during George W. Bush’s second term.