BOGO college tuition program aims to bolster STEM fields

The Florida Board of Governors on Tuesday approved a plan that would waive tuition and fees to students double majoring in specific STEM fields, described by some as a sort of buy-one-get-one deal. 

The program would be implemented within the twelve state universities in Florida, allowing students majoring in at least one of eight chosen programs to skip the costs associated with a second major. The eight majors include: 

  • Computer and information sciences
  • Information technology 
  • Civil engineering 
  • Computer engineering
  • Electrical and electronics engineering 
  • Mathematics 
  • Physics
  • Management information systems 

If approved, the schools would receive $25 million from the state to kick-start the program. They'd have to spend at least half that amount on the fall semester. While the program was met with mass approval, some board members on Tuesday raised concerns about students potentially seeking the most cost-effective program instead of the one they feel best suited for. 

"The unintended consequence that was brought up is students that will choose these majors for the wrong reasons, for financial reasons rather than for career reasons," said board member William Self, "and then there’s a real concern that a number of those students will not be successful."

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There is also some concern about a lack of nursing in this incentive program, a field that continues to see a growing need across the U.S. 

"Given the significant workforce demands that are being created post-pandemic and the gap that exists with nursing and projected shortages, why would we not want to consider them?" asked board member Alan Levine. "And I may be asking this at the wrong level; I don’t know if these are just courses or if these are programs. But why would we not want to include nursing in that?"

One question that remains is whether minors in STEM fields could be counted in this program. It's one of the unknowns that will likely get an answer to in the coming weeks. 

The program still needs approval from Governor Ron Desantis. If he gives it the green light, the incentive program would be in place as soon as this fall.