A Revolution in College Costs?

Michael Lux Blog, News, Student Loans 6 Comments

Georgia Tech recently unveiled an Online Master of Computer Science program.  While the creation of internet based education is hardly unique or special, this particular program offers a glimpse into a potentially brighter future for higher education in the United States.

The particular online program has been dubbed a form of MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).  A MOOC is an online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the internet.  The Georgia Tech program is unique because their program is offered for credit at a fairly low cost.

Why is this special?

People who complete this program, which costs less than $7,000, will have a Masters degree from Georgia Tech in Computer Science.  For those of you who may not be familiar with Georgia Tech, they are one of the top ten schools in Computer Science.  Their program is more highly regarded than the likes of Harvard, Columbia, and Brown.

You can actually get a masters from a top computer science school for less than 7k!

Why would Georgia Tech do this?

Charles Isbell, a senior associate dean of the Georgia Tech College of Computing bluntly stated:

“We are doing it because we can and because we should… Rising student costs for higher education threaten enrollments at a growing number of institutions. Structural shifts in the economy have simultaneously created a sizable population of un- or underemployed workers in need of affordable education and training together with a strong demand for a larger technological workforce.”

Why does this mean for you?

If you have spent any time on this site or reviewed the student loan issue, you know that the ever growing cost of college is a major contributor the the student debt epidemic.  Georgia Tech has a premier program in computer science.  Instead of spending over 40k a year to attend the school from out of state, you can complete the program for a tiny fraction of the cost.

Even if you have no interest in Georgia Tech or computer science at all, this is an exciting development.  If a top education can be had at such an affordable rate, other schools will have to compete.  For the last couple decades we have seen tuition rates climb with no signs of stopping.  This program offers a glimpse of hope for a future where colleges compete for students with lower tuition rates.  In many ways this is like Ferrari offering a new car for the price of a used Honda Civic.  Even if you don’t want a Ferrari, such a move would definitely shake up the auto market to the benefit of consumers.

Put yourself in the perspective of a talented computer science grad.  If you could participate in this online program, wouldn’t you think twice before enrolling in a traditional program?

One of the main arguments against online programs has always been school reputation.  That can’t be argued in this case.  If traditional programs have to lower their prices to compete, then all future students will benefit.


If you are curious about this pilot program, here is Georgia Tech’s official FAQ.

Editor’s Note: I have no affiliation with Georgia Tech or any MOOC program.  I just think this is a really exciting development in higher education.