Scott-O-Meter

Create a program for $10,000 STEM degrees

"In the next four years, Gov. Scott is committed to securing $10 million to create a $10,000 degree competitive STEM grant program for our state colleges."

Updates

Students enrolled in $10k STEM degrees during Scott's tenure

Gov. Rick Scott set several goals to make Florida a leader in education while running for re-election in 2014.

He promised to raise public university rankings and make Florida the cheapest state in the country to get a college education. He also wanted more students to study STEM — which stands for science, technology, engineering and math — without piling on a mountain of debt.

Scott promised to "secure $10 million to create a $10,000 degree competitive STEM grant program for our state colleges."

As his time as governor ends, we checked if Florida's state college STEM majors are earning degrees for $10,000 or not.

Scott was looking to bolster Florida's influence in the STEM industry, which boasts high-paying careers ranging from medicine to aerospace engineering.  

When we first checked in on Scott's promise in 2016, things weren't going so well.

For two years in a row, Scott tried to earmark a total of $10 million for the program, but the budget writers of the Legislature did not go along with it.

He tried for the first time in 2015 with a $5 million proposal. No dice. He tried again in 2016. Nada.

Scott, however, has had better luck by taking a different approach.

In November 2012, Scott challenged state colleges, formerly known as community colleges, to offer students $10,000 degrees, regardless of their major.

At the time, 23 colleges accepted the challenge. By fall 2013, few students were enrolled in the program largely because of ineligibility.

Instead of securing $10 million specifically for STEM degrees, his administration opted to amend a Florida statute to provide $10,000 degrees to eligible students.

After the 2014 legislative session, Scott signed SB 1076 to allow Florida College System institutions to waive some tuition and fees to offer degrees for less than $10,000. It was not limited to STEM fields.

Program requirements, which vary depending on college and department, include status as a Florida resident, holding no other scholarships, meeting with an advisor at least once a term and completing the program within six years, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters wrote in an email.     

During the 2014-15 academic year, 14,791 students were enrolled in a $10,000 baccalaureate degree program, including 3,495 students in STEM fields. Between 2015-16 and 2017-18, total enrollment in the program grew to between 31,000 and 34,000. Each year, the number in STEM fields was between 8,200 and 8,700, according to the Florida Department of Education.

We rate this Promise Kept.

Amy Sherman contributed reporting.

Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, Florida First budget, Nov. 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott, Florida First budget, 2016-17

New York Times, "Florida may reduce tuition for select majors," Dec. 10, 2012

Florida Department of Education, Emailed data on degrees, Jan. 4, 2019

Legislature not interested in Gov. Rick Scott's STEM degrees

Gov. Rick Scott, who recently held a higher education summit in Orlando, wants to increase the number of Florida students who graduate with degrees in STEM fields.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

During his re-election campaign, Scott promised to secure $10 million to create a $10,000 degree STEM grant program for state colleges. (He has also sought to raise the rankings of Florida's universities and to to be No. 1 in the nation for higher education affordability.)

For the second legislative session in a row, Scott in 2016 proposed $5 million toward STEM degrees.

For the second year in a row, the Legislature ignored his request.

The degrees already exist — just without the extra $10 million Scott wants to earmark for them.

In 2012, Scott issued a challenge to state colleges to offer $10,000 degrees, but it wasn't only for STEM studies. That program is only for state colleges (previously called community colleges) and not universities.

During the 2014-15 academic year, 14,791 students were enrolled in a $10,000 baccalaureate degree program, including 3,495 students in STEM fields.

Scott still has two more legislative sessions to go, but he hasn't found a willing partner in the Legislature so far to create the STEM degree program.

We rate this promise Stalled.

 

Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, "Gov. Rick Scott signs the 'Keep Florida Working' budget," June 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott, Florida First budget, Nov. 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott, Florida First budget, 2016-17

Orlando Sentinel, "Scott pushes for more college students to graduate in 4 years," May 25, 2016

Interview, Cheryl Etters, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman, May 24, 2016

 

With session coming, Scott proposes $5 million for STEM

As part of his broader goal to grow jobs, Gov. Rick Scott has promised to invest more in education for science, technology, engineering and math fields -- shortened often as STEM.

During his re-election campaign, Scott promised he would secure "$10 million to create a $10,000 degree competitive STEM grant program for our state colleges."

In his 2015-16 budget proposal, Scott included $5 million in new funds for state colleges to develop or expand STEM bachelor's degrees that cost students $10,000 or less in tuition and fees. But for the state Legislature growing STEM degrees wasn't a priority and zero dollars ended up in the final budget. (The Legislature spent most of its time trying to deal with Medicaid in 2015.)

In Scott's budget proposal for 2016-17, he has proposed $5 million again.

We will wait to see how the Legislature -- which convenes Jan. 12 -- reacts to his proposal this time, but for now we continue to rate this In the Works.

 

Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, "Gov. Rick Scott signs the 'Keep Florida Working' budget," June 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott, Florida First budget, Nov. 23, 2015

PolitiFact's Scott-O-Meter, Education promises, Accessed Dec. 21, 2015

Interview, Jeri Bustamante, Gov. Rick Scott spokeswoman, Dec. 16, 2015

 

Rick Scott proposes $10,000 STEM degrees

Gov. Rick Scott, who once owned businesses ranging from a doughnut shop to a health care company, is a big fan of degrees that lead to jobs.

In 2011, he told a radio talk show host that Florida doesn't need "a lot more anthropologists." Instead, Scott said, the state needs more graduates in science, technology, engineering and math fields -- shortened often as STEM.

During his second campaign in 2014, he promised he would secure "$10 million to create a $10,000 degree competitive STEM grant program for our state colleges."

Scott's taking that promise to the Florida Legislature. In his January budget proposal, Scott included $5 million in new funds for state colleges to develop or expand STEM bachelor's degrees that cost students $10,000 or less in tuition and fees. That would be a one-year appropriation to begin in the 2015-16 year.

In 2012, Scott issued a challenge to state colleges to offer $10,000 degrees, but it wasn't specifically earmarked for STEM studies. That program doesn't apply to universities but only state colleges (previously called community colleges). As of October, about 270 students -- including about 54 in STEM programs -- are on track for $10,000 degrees at the 21 colleges participating.

We'll have to wait to see if Scott's proposal for $10,000 degrees earmarked for STEM leads to more widespread opportunity for students, but his $5 million proposal is a step toward his promise. We rate this promise In The Works.

Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, Budget proposal, 2015-16

PolitiFact Florida, "University Chancellor Frank Brogan claims anthropology is a part of STEM," Oct. 21, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, "Scott says all 4-year state colleges offer $10,000 degrees," March 4, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott talks doughnuts in 2012 State of the State address," Jan. 10, 2012

PolitiFact Florida, "Crist says Scott pleaded 5th 75 times 'to avoid jail,'" Sept. 25, 2014

Interview, Jeri Bustamante, Gov. Rick Scott spokeswoman, Feb. 23, 2015

Interview, Cheryl Etters, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman, Jan. 26, 2015

Interview, Joe Follick, Florida College System spokesman, Feb. 24, 2015