What is Dual Enrollment and How Much Does it Cost?
As a high school student, you can gain valuable experience and earn college credits through dual enrollment programs.
If you’re looking to give your college applications a boost, challenge yourself academically, and earn credit hours, dual enrollment may be an excellent choice for you. With dual enrollment programs, you complete college courses — for credit — as a high school student.
It’s becoming an increasingly popular option. According to the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, approximately 10% of high school students take college courses.
However, dual enrollment isn’t for everyone. Before enrolling in dual enrollment courses, here’s what to consider.
What Is Dual Enrollment?
With dual enrollment programs, you complete college classes while you’re still in high school. You’ll take postsecondary coursework and earn college credits toward a degree. Dual enrollment programs are available for public and private school students, as well as individuals that are homeschooled.
If your school offers a dual enrollment option, that means it has a partnership with a local college. Typically, dual enrollment courses are completed at area community colleges, but some four-year universities also partner with high schools.
Benefits of Dual Enrollment
There are significant advantages to taking dual enrollment courses in high school:
1. Gain College Experience
Dual enrollment classes are taught by college professors. The courses are typically much more intensive than you’ve had in high school, giving you a taste of what college classes are like. You’ll be evaluated on your work as if you were a college student, so you can get a good idea of how well you will handle college after you graduate from high school.
Because the coursework is more demanding, participating in dual enrollment programs can make you stand out during the college admissions process.
2. Earn College Credits
As you complete your dual enrollment classes, you’ll earn college credits. Depending on where you decide to go to college after you graduate, your credits may transfer. If your credits transfer over, you might satisfy your college’s requirements early, allowing you to add a second major or minor, or even graduate early.
3. Reduce College Expenses
Dual enrollment courses typically are much less expensive than classes you’ll take as a full-time college student. Sometimes, they are completely free. By completing some college elective or core requirements while you’re still in high school, you’ll have fewer classes to take once you enroll in college full-time, reducing how much you have to spend — and minimizing the need to take out student loans.
Drawbacks of Dual Enrollment
While participating in a dual enrollment program can be beneficial, there are some potential downsides to keep in mind:
1. Issues Transferring Credits
While you can earn college credits with dual enrollment classes, there is no guarantee that the college you end up attending will accept those credits; transfer policies vary from school to school. If your credits don’t transfer, you’ll have to retake those classes once you’re in college, adding to your costs.
2. Difficulties Managing Workload
Dual enrollment classes can be challenging, and require a significant amount of work outside of the classroom. Plus, many dual enrollment classes take place on the college’s campus, so you’ll have to commute to school. All of that can make it difficult to manage your workload and juggle your other responsibilities, like work, extracurricular activities, and your family and friends.
Depending on where you live and where you go to school, you may be responsible for the entire cost of the classes you take in a dual enrollment program. In some states, the student or their parents must pay 100% of the college class costs and fees.
In other areas, your school district may cover some or all of the cost. To find out how your state handles dual enrollment fees, visit the Education Commission of the States’ dual enrollment database.
How Much Does Dual Enrollment Cost?
The cost of a dual enrollment program is dependent on your location, the type of school you attend, and whether or not you qualify for scholarships or grants.
For example, students in Connecticut must pay all of the college tuition themselves. But in Florida, your school district will pay the college’s standard tuition rate for you.
There may be other associated costs, such as textbooks or other supplies, that you have to purchase. However, some states will pay for your books and school-required materials. For example, if you are a resident of Wisconsin and attend a school within the University of Wisconsin system, your school district will pay the actual cost of your tuition, fees, books, and other required supplies.
Scholarships and Grants
To help offset the cost of taking dual enrollment classes, you may be eligible for scholarships or grants. Some states and non-profit organizations offer special awards for high school students taking college classes.
For example, Tennessee operates the Dual Enrollment Grant. Students awarded the grant can receive up to $510 per course.
To find out if you’re eligible for a similar program, visit your state education agency or contact your selected college’s financial aid office.
How to Take Dual Enrollment Courses
Requirements for dual enrollment programs vary by state and school. Generally, you must meet certain GPA requirements, pass sections of college placement tests, and complete course prerequisites as needed. If you’re interested in participating in a dual enrollment program, talk to your high school guidance counselor about your options and what the process is to enroll.
Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, FL. She specializes in helping people finance their education and manage debt. Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, and many other publications.
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