Here’s an Idea: Charge More for Less Useful Degrees

By Alden WickerLearnVest

In Florida, college students might have to pay more for the privilege of getting a “useless” degree.

Well, so far it’s just an idea. The Atlantic reports that a task force assembled by Florida Governor Rick Scott will soon submit a proposal to the legislature containing several recommendations for how Florida can can reform its university system, and this is one of the ideas.

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In the proposal, the task force recommends Florida help universities freeze tuition for certain “high-skill, high-wage, high-demand” majors, which would be picked out by the legislature, while letting tuition rise for other, less useful majors. We can take a guess at what the more desirable majors would be by looking at what majors the government already deem “strategic areas of emphasis,” like STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math), health care, emergency and security services, some education majors and globalization.

Ideally, a student choosing a major might be swayed to choose engineering over religious studies, once they see the price tag difference, and Florida’s businesses would have a larger pool of qualified applicants to choose from.

But could this really work? There are some worries:

  • Students who choose to major in the humanities will have to take on a higher burden of debt, even though they’ll be less able to pay it off when they graduate. (Learn how to pay off your student loans here, what the top student loan mistakes are and what to do if you’re struggling with your student loan payments.)
  • While we would like to think 18-year-olds consider the financial consequence of their educational choices, fresh graduates are the first to admit that they made some dumb financial mistakes when choosing a college. (Hello, student loan crisis!)
  • It’s not likely the legislature will make perfect work of choosing the majors that will be in demand four years from now.
  • This assumes that students would switch to an entirely different field of study given a small nudge, when really, students who choose to major in English might have chosen it because they are actually just better at dissecting metaphors than dissecting animals, and would fail out of a STEM program.

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