Be in high school and college at the same time with dual enrollment to save
Photo by James Balensiefen on Unsplash
Many high school students plan their schedules carefully to impress future college admissions officers and scholarship programs. Did you know there is a type of class that will not only wow colleges with your ability to manage with rigorous coursework, but could also save you money and time on your future degree? If you want to pack your high school schedule with the best value, be sure to include dual enrollment classes.
What is dual enrollment?
Dual enrollment, sometimes called concurrent enrollment or dual credit, lets high school students enroll in college classes while they are still in high school. (You are enrolled in both high school and college--hence, “dual” enrollment). Some programs let you take college classes at your high school campus or online, while others allow you to attend classes on a college campus along with other college students. A few programs even let you earn an associate’s degree or career certification at the same time you earn your high school diploma!
How can dual enrollment save money?
Tuition discounts: Although it varies widely from program to program and state to state, most dual enrollment students are eligible for discounts on tuition for their college classes. The discounts range from modest grants/scholarships for gifted students at elite private schools to public high school students earning associate’s degrees completely for free, such as the 21st Century Charter School in Gary, IN or the Judson Early College Academy in Austin, TX. Generally speaking, the more of the responsibility for program administration is in the high schools (e.g. classes located in the high schools, high school teachers are serving as adjunct faculty, etc.), the greater the discounts for students and parents.
Dual credit: Have you ever changed schools and ended up repeating a lot of the science or history content you learned last year? The college-high school partnerships built with dual enrollment help students avoid this kind of curriculum repetition through dual credit! Most dual enrollment classes allow you to earn college credits and to meet high school graduation requirements for the same class. This means you can start earning college credits for classes you have to take for high school anyway! Again, the policies vary by district and program, but it is typical for students taking an introductory level college English or Statistics class to earn credit for their high school junior or senior requirement in the same subject.
Transfer college credits: Here is where the real magic of dual enrollment happens for reducing your college costs: transfer the credits you earn in high school to your college or university and shave a semester or year off your degree (and the associated costs!). However, this is where it also gets a bit complicated. Many colleges and universities, especially state schools, are friendly to accepting credits for introductory or “general education” classes from other accredited colleges, but not all. Be sure to ask about the transfer policies of the schools you are considering if you want to save money with dual enrollment classes.
Bonus benefit: More degrees and earnings in the future!
Researchers who have studied students who participated in dual enrollment programs found they are more likely to complete postsecondary degrees and more likely to earn higher wages six years after 12th grade. Dual enrollment can be a great way to get a head start on your college degree and save you money in the long term. Make it a part of your college savings plan today.
Diana Sung is a career educator and personal finance enthusiast. She blogs about family life, frugal living, and values-driven finances at Free Fun Family.