Attention, all you US aspirants - the meltdown has begun! The US college fee, which once soared as high as our dreams of actually getting to the US, is showing the first signs of being within reach, albeit at the UG level. A select few colleges in Texas have proposed a $ 10,000 undergraduate degree that aims to woo international students back into the fold and, as a long term measure, address the trillion dollar debt that colleges are facing.
The proposal for the Rs. 5.5 lakh (approx.) degree is expected to be a major morale-booster for Indian students, and indeed their parents. The earlier figures of close to $100,000 for education at an elite institution, or MBA and law degrees ranging from $80,000 to $150,000 could well become history. The majority of Indian students, among the approximately 100000 who are studying in US colleges at any given time, opt for postgraduate education no doubt but the enrolment numbers for undergraduate education are on the rise and this potential incentive could not have come at a better time.
The 10 schools in Texas, which have fired this opening salvo in response to urgings from the State governor Rick Perry to cut costs, account for about 10 % of undergraduate students enrolled in public universities in the state. Angelo State University in West Texas with 7000 students has even gone so far as to announce that it intends to offer a degree for $ 10,000 starting next fall. The move seems to have found favour with other schools such as Texas A&M University, University of Texas and Texas Tech, who are expected to make similar announcements soon. Governor Perry is confident that this will give students access to a high quality degree at a comparatively low cost, and help kick-start their careers.
There are issues to consider though. Warnings about a possible drop in the standard of education, variable hidden costs like campus housing and books, expansion of classroom sizes and appointment of adjunct faculty paid on a per-class basis will need to be heeded seriously in the wake of other similar proposals which were later discovered to be not quite what they promised.
Optimists, however, will say this is indicative of a realisation in the US that a growing number of students from lower income, middle-class homes enter the job market with a massive debt burden - a talking point among both Republicans and Democrats. This could well be a move to start ringing in the numbers to bring down the $1 trillion that the US owes in student loans, a figure even higher than the $700 billion owed in credit card debts.
Article source : Times of India
Image source : www.businessclimate.com