DeSantis Questions Value of College Debt, Wonders If $150k for a 'Zombie Studies' Degree is Worth It

Patrick Taylor | July 1, 2022
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When it comes to mountainous college debt, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is taking action. On Monday, DeSantis expanded eligibility for Florida’s Bright Futures scholarships, allowing students to substitute paid work experience for volunteer experience in qualifying for the program.

During a press conference focused on the legislation, DeSantis took time to dwell on the state of higher education in America.

DeSantis first spoke approvingly about Florida’s public university system, saying, “We have the number one ranked public university and state college system in the United States, and that’s been true by U.S. News and World Report for five straight years.”

The first-term governor touted the affordability of Florida’s schools, but noted that Florida, who hasn’t raised student tuition throughout DeSantis’s governorship, was the exception to the rule.

“There aren’t many places you can go where you can get a credible four-year degree and pay $6,000, $6,500, $6,800 for tuition,” DeSantis said. “That’s just not even in the realm of possibility in any other place.”

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“I’m a big believer in higher education,” he added, “but I’m not a believer in plunging people $150,000 into debt with a degree in ‘zombie studies.’ That is not a pathway to success. And so, the idea that you need your entire future just to get a piece of paper [is] bad advice.”

DeSantis, himself an Ivy League graduate, proposed a series of alternative pathways to college degrees, including certifications and apprenticeships, that “have opportunities where you can be very successful.” Still, the governor was careful to stress that one shouldn’t limit themselves to these pathways.

After discussing education in general, DeSantis spoke in more specific terms regarding the newly passed bill.

Lower-income students, DeSantis explained, “need to work to help their families, and those students should not be denied the opportunity to qualify for a scholarship just because their socioeconomic background makes it more difficult to do this type of volunteer work.”

DeSantis added that, although students engaging in community service “in and of itself is a positive thing,” he wanted to avoid putting the scholarship “out of reach for a student just because of their family circumstance.”

According to Forbes, Americans have accumulated a total of $1.75 trillion in student loan debt, with $28,950 owed per borrower on average.

This level of debt is unsustainable, crippling America’s young adults as they enter the workforce—as such, ideas like DeSantis’s may be necessary to pull America out of this crisis without forcing non-college graduates to shoulder the cost.


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