The cost of attending California’s public universities and colleges has has dramatically increased over the last two decades; meanwhile, there is a shortage of American students pursuing science and technology degrees.

Cal Watchdog writer Katy Grimes reports that a state Assemblyman has an idea to address both of these issues in one piece of legislation.

Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, announced this week that he has introduced a bill to decrease the costs of college for students majoring in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. Assembly Bill 51 would create a pilot program for certain college majors to earn Bachelor’s Degrees costing no more than $10,000, and complete college in 18 months.

AB 51 would streamline the process by which students graduate from college through better coordination with high schools, community colleges and the California State University system. Logue told me that students would have access to accredited college courses while still in high school. “This is where the savings comes in,” he said. “By the time they graduate high school, many students can already have much of the general education courses out of the way and move on to the advanced courses.”

Logue said he is very concerned about California’s young people because, according to California Community College records, 75 percent of community college students drop out. And too many young men aren’t even choosing to go to college. “They don’t see a future in most of the course work offered anymore,” Logue told me.

Program tests

The legislation selects three different parts of the state as a test for the program’s coordination.  Among the measures to be used to help students achieve a degree on time are unlimited Advanced Placement course credits in high school, more access to community college credit in high school and priority enrollment in community colleges after high school.

“This would allow a student to graduate with a B.A. Degree within 18 months and get right into the work force,” Logue said. “Jobs in STEM fields are good, high-paying jobs of which many are currently filled by candidates from overseas due to the lack of American students graduating in those fields.”

Despite being a Republican, Logue is hopeful of getting bipartisan support

“I hope my bill will be the beginning of a revolution to the very pressing issue of the costs of college that students face these days,” Logue added. “We cannot expect today’s students to have a higher standard of living than their parents if they continue to leave college saddled with so much debt.”.

Although Democrats now hold a supermajority in the Assembly, as well as the Senate, Republicans still can play an important role by boosting reform ideas. For moderate Democrats concerned about the state’s low-performing schools, AB 51 could be a platform for change.