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Dual enrollment legislation allows high school students to earn college credit at no cost


High school students who take advantage of the dual enrollment opportunities available to them could save thousands of dollars on their college education.

“When you look at fees, book costs and the cost of a three-hour credit they are saving a lot of money by taking these classes,” said Carol Abrams, director of high school initiatives at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. “They are saving themselves or their parents about $1,000 per course.”

New legislation signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal streamlines the dual enrollment process so students in high school can take classes at colleges and universities that are in the University System of Georgia or the Technical College System of Georgia.

The students receive credit in both high school and college, and the classes are free because the fees are paid through a $28 million appropriation lawmakers put in next year’s state budget.

GNTC has been doing a form of dual enrollment since the mid-90s, Abrams said.

“Our school has the largest number of dual enrollment students in the state,” she said. “This past year we had 1,300 students from nine counties that attend classes on our campuses or at their own schools.”

Georgia Northwestern’s leaders have long seen the value of dual enrollment and made it a priority, she added.

“Our current president and former one both agreed it was important. They set it up so we waived the application fees and whatever was left of the course fees after financial aid came through,” she said. “This new legislation will just expand it and make it even easier.”

Georgia Highlands College has also offered dual enrollment opportunities for several decades, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Jones. “We had 175 high school students participate in 2014-15 and for 2015-16, our numbers have already increased to 250 students,” he said.

The advantages of the program are not only about finances, however.

“A high school administrator told me he was speaking to a recent graduate who was a very bright student but once she got to college, she realized that so many other students there had used dual enrollment and gotten ahead,” said Abrams. “Basically, if you weren’t ahead you were behind.”

Many dual enrollment students at GNTC already have six to 10 college classes under their belt when they finish high school, added Abrams.

“The benefits of dual enrollment include both the financial savings and the ability for students to accelerate their college degree completion,” said Jones. “In fact, the new program will make it possible for more students to earn an associate’s degree at the same time they graduate from high school.”

Tim Hensley, assistant to the superintendent at Floyd County Schools, said the legislation will definitely remove some barriers.

“The biggest challenge some of our students have faced is the cost at Georgia Highlands,” Hensley said. “This will take care of that so, really now, the only issue will be if the student has time to take the courses.”

Hensley said many students, especially those in advanced pathways, may not have enough room in their schedules to fit in the dual enrollment courses. But the school system is working to remedy that.

“We are adding four high school classes at a middle school level now, which will allow students to possibly free up some time,” he said. “This will give the students more time to take more AP classes and take advantage of dual enrollment if they choose. It’s all about giving our students more options.”

On the ROME NEWS-TRIBUNE: http://www.northwestgeorgianews.com/rome/news/education/dual-enrollment-legislation-allows-high-school-students-to-earn-college/article_ec2b023e-0c0a-11e5-bbb6-3fffee4ab7ec.html

Page last updated: June 8, 2015