Dual Enrollment Program Offers a Jump Start on College and Tuition Savings

While college affordability and increasing tuition rates continue to get headlines across the country, families in Piedmont Technical College’s service area have been taking advantage of one of the best deals in higher education for more than 10 years.

PTC’s dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to earn college credit while still in high school, has grown significantly over the last several years. In the fall 2012 semester alone, the program enrolled more than 900 high school students in 26 locations throughout the seven-county area that PTC serves.

“We work with every school district in our region,” said Amanda Richardson, PTC dual enrollment counselor.

Richardson said that dual enrollment is a great deal for families because the credit students earn is transferable. This means a big cost savings for families.

This year alone, students and families in PTC’s service region have collectively saved more than $5.5 million on tuition costs.

“Some of our students enroll at PTC after they graduate, but most dual enrollment students take the credit they’ve earned and transfer to four-year colleges and universities,” said Richardson. 

This year alone, students and families in PTC’s service region have collectively saved more than $5.5 million on tuition costs.

Richardson also explains that some parents don’t understand how they can fully take advantage of the program. Through good planning, it’s possible to complete up to two full years of a bachelor’s degree while still in high school.

In 2011, an Emerald High School student named Abbe Cannon completed 62 credit hours through dual enrollment and entered Anderson University as a junior. 

That accomplishment saved Abbe’s family more than $40,000 in tuition costs, but it was also good preparation for the college experience.

“High school is a lot different than college, even if you are taking dual enrollment classes at the high school,” Abbe said. “Coming [to PTC] gives you more responsibility because I chose to come to class. It’s prepared me for the college experience.”

For students taking PTC classes through their high schools, there is no tuition cost as long as the student is enrolled in at least 6 credit hours. Course offerings each semester are decided on by each school district, depending on the availability of their qualified faculty. Utilizing the school system faculty to teach a collegiate class that also meets the graduation requirement for the high school student is a win-win situation for the student, school system and for the parents. It has also allowed Piedmont Technical College to offer the class at a 50 percent discount for the student.

Effective fall 2013, high school students taking classes on a PTC campus will be responsible for full tuition rates, but will still be eligible to receive lottery tuition assistance when they enroll in at least 6 credit hours.

 “This is a great way for students to get an idea about what college courses will be like in advance. For families, it’s an excellent way to make college more affordable and make the most of the financial aid packages their children receive when they’re accepted to a four-year school,” Richardson said.

In an age of continuously increasing student loan debt after graduating from college, that’s good news indeed.

For more information or for inquiries about your school’s participation in the dual enrollment program, contact your school’s guidance office.

Most high school offerings will be in place for this upcoming school year as usual.

Due to changes in budget and staff, Greenwood District 50 may no longer offer Dual Enrollment courses at the high school. Courses will still be available at PTC’s Greenwood Campus for high school students. For information about upcoming changes at Greenwood District 50, please contact Shirley Boyce at (864) 941-5400.

Photo Caption: Students from Greenwood High School, Emerald High School and Ninety Six High School take a test in their Analytical Geometry and Calculus I class at Piedmont Technical College. The students are enrolled in the Dual Enrollment program that allows them to complete college-level courses while still in high school.