Dual Enrollment Decreases Time and Cost of Degree, Saving Students Thousands

With states across the nation struggling to curb higher education costs, many are reexamining the potential of statewide dual enrollment programs to lower student debt and reduce time to a degree.

Dual enrollment, or early college, is used by high school students to explore college options and earn college credit prior to high school graduation. Increasingly popular among eligible high school juniors and seniors, these programs allow secondary students to enroll in postsecondary coursework and receive both college and high school credit simultaneously.

Additionally, a recent MassINC report indicated that dual enrollment programs could help curb a number of pressing problems like growing credential gaps across race and class, declining enrollment in public colleges, and a lack of skilled workers. The study noted also that dually enrolled students were twice as likely to complete the FASFA and enroll in college.

Dual enrollment has the potential to decrease the cost of higher education and reduce student debt. It is a proven policy associated with a range of positive outcomes, including:

  • Reduced time-to-degree,
  • Quicker entrance into the workforce,
  • Increased high school graduation rates,
  • Increased postsecondary attainment rates (even after controlling for student, family, schooling achievements, and school context factors),
  • Reduced cost-to-degree, and
  • Lower student debt.

Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only two states that does not offer a statewide dual enrollment program. Additional information and data is available here.

With dual enrollment holding such promise, success stories abound. However, Pennsylvania students and the Commonwealth’s economy would benefit even more from establishing a statewide dual enrollment program with community colleges as eligible providers. Doing so would decrease the time and cost of pursuing a postsecondary degree or credential in Pennsylvania, and help more students like these:

  • Bucks County Community College
    • Community College Offers Enrichment Program for Current High School Students
      Bucks County Community College offers two programs in which high school students can earn college credit, one of which is dual enrollment. Dual enrollment courses are select courses taught by Bucks faculty at several county high schools before, during, or after the high school day as determined by high school administration.
  • Butler County Community College
    • Teens named youngest to receive BC3 certificate
      Two teenagers have become the youngest graduates to receive a Butler County Community College workplace certificate in entrepreneurship. In May 2020, Saylee Grinnen tied 2019 dual enrollment graduate Mikayla Beachem as the youngest to graduate BC3 in the last 20 years. Both achieved certificates on their 6,474 day in age.
  • Delaware County Community College
    • Community College Dual Enrollment Student Headed to Harvard
      Braden Ellis, a gifted bassist, headed to Harvard University in the fall of 2020 on scholarship. While enrolled in high school dual enrollment programs at both Delaware County Community College and Drexel University, Ellis earned about 60 college credits, enough for him, under state guidelines, to receive his high school diploma last April.
  • HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
    • Meet Kate: Homeschool Student Takes Dual College Classes
      Kate Foley decided she was going to take advantage of dual enrollment programs at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, while in high school. She said, “As a homeschool student looking for challenges, HACC was the perfect fit for me. I have nearly complete freedom to choose classes that interest me. It’s the perfect transition between high school and college life.”
  • Lehigh Carbon Community College
    • High School Athlete Earns Associate Degree at 18-Years-Old
      Through dual enrollment, Ade Conover, a track & field standout at Louis E Dieruff High School, will leave high school with an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Lehigh Carbon Community College. With a goal of becoming a lawyer, Ms. Conover told the Morning Call that when she first stepped into the classroom with college students, she was determined to be successful.
  • Montgomery County Community College
    • Dual Enrollment Program Launches Student’s College Career
      He’s only a junior in high school, but Brendan Cartin is already wrapping up his first year in college. The 17-year-old Upper Moreland High School student signed up for an opportunity through Montgomery County Community College that offers high school students the ability to attend college classes for credit, saving time and money on higher education.
    • Dual Enrollment Offers High School Students College Credits
      Not many people can say they received a high school diploma and a college degree in the same year, but – at only 18 years old – Delila Matara is one of them. She was also the youngest graduate at the Montgomery County Community College 2020 Commencement Ceremony. Ms. Matara was able to receive both diplomas because she took advantage of dual enrollment.
  • Reading Area Community College
    • Dual Enrollment Offers High School Students a Start on College
      When 18-year-old Muhlenberg High School senior Brooke Elizabeth Weister starts college this fall she’ll already have a semester of college credits in-hand. A few she earned through taking Advanced Placement exams last year, but most are from her participation in a dual enrollment program at Reading Area Community College.
  • Westmoreland County Community College
    • High School Junior Earns Degree Through Early College Program
      As David An prepares to graduate from high school this spring, he feels uniquely prepared to take on the challenges of college, in part because he has already earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Science from Westmoreland County Community College. Through his participation in Westmoreland’s Early College program, he attended evening and online classes to achieve his postsecondary goals.