SF College will offer $10,000 degree

Beginning fall 2014, the degree will be in public safety management


Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.

Florida students applying to state colleges can look forward to obtaining bachelor's degrees for about 71 percent of previous costs.

Santa Fe College, one of more than 20 colleges in the state to accept Gov. Rick Scott's $10,000 degree challenge, plans to kick off the program for freshmen beginning fall 2014, said Ed Bonahue, chief academic officer and provost at SF College.

In November 2012, Scott challenged colleges to make bachelor's degrees available to students for $10,000 or less. In the Florida College System, they usually cost about $14,000.

"The $10,000 degree challenge is one that asks colleges to really extend their mission of access, to try to create opportunities for students to go to school, to get out and get good jobs," Bonahue said. "That's the way that we view this program."

SF College's first $10,000 bachelor's degree will be in public safety management. Other degrees are expected to be offered in the future.

The public safety degree is for students interested in pursuing careers with police or fire departments, Bonahue said.

Law enforcement and fire agencies would like to see additional students prepared with baccalaureate degrees, but it's not the first area many students might consider when thinking about college, Bonahue said.

Dylan Hayes-Morrison graduated from SF College's police academy in 2009 and got a job that year with the Gainesville Police Department.

He said everyone in his class at the academy who was hired by GPD had a bachelor's degree. GPD is the largest police agency in Alachua County.

"It's become a very professional job, meaning they really do value education," Hayes-Morrison said.

He attended Santa Fe his first two years of college, then transferred to the University of Florida to finish his bachelor's degree in criminology in 2008.

Hayes-Morrison attended SF College's police academy after that. He said if the $10,000 bachelor's degree had been available when he was in college, he definitely would have considered it.

Everything, down to parking, was more difficult at UF, he said.

Students hoping to be eligible for the $10,000 degree at SF College are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.5. They must be in-state, full-time students with a record that shows they take school seriously, Bonahue said.

Students with lots of failures, retakes and withdrawals probably will not be eligible for the program, he said.

"We're trying to attract a cohort of students that will be more committed," he said.

By Florida statute, all students who are going to earn a bachelor's degree at a community college must earn an associate degree first. For Santa Fe's $10,000 degree, students must earn an associate of science degree in criminal justice or an associate of arts degree in another program before applying. They also will need to take the prerequisites required for the degree.

Bonahue said at this point, he is unaware of any money designated by the state that would support colleges pushing to expand this program. He said SF College is big enough it won't have to make cuts to afford waiving the tuition difference for students.

Amber Swal is a Gainesville Sun correspondent.

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