Education secretary announces new dual enrollment pilot
The federal government is making it easier for Southern Maryland high school students to take dual enrollment classes at the College of Southern Maryland with a new program which will allow them to apply for Pell grants for students in need.
The program was announced Monday at CSM by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. CSM is one of 44 higher education institutions across the country which have been selected to participate in the pilot program, King said.
“One of the goals of this administration is to provide increased educational opportunities for students,” King said in announcing the $22 million program. “This is about connecting students with the college environment, what college will be like, what it will feel like to be successful as a college student, so that they can see a path toward their future in higher education.”
Dual enrollment students participating in the program will apply for the Pell grant using the same Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form that college students use, said Yuanxia Ding, senior policy advisor to Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell.
CSM provides dual enrollment classes — classes where high school juniors and seniors take college courses for high school and college credit — to students in Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties.
Dual enrollment can take the form of classes taught on college campuses, classes taught by college faculty at high schools and classes taught remotely through telepresence technology, known as CSM Access.
“Students can interact directly with a faculty member through our telepresence technology,” said Brian Hammond, CSM director of admissions. “Everyone felt like they were in a large, interactive classroom.”
The College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013 expanded the role of community colleges in allowing high school students to take dual enrollment classes.
“Dual enrollment allows students to see themselves as college students, and not incidentally to accumulate credits that can help shorten the time to their degree and reduce the costs of higher education,” Mitchell said.
Under the 2013 law, colleges charge tuition to the local school boards; school boards are allowed to recoup those costs from students, except for those students eligible for Free and Reduced Meals. Other costs, such as books and activity fees, are not covered under the law and are the responsibility of the student.
“We all know that tuition is just a part of what it costs to be enrolled in college. Textbooks, fees, transportation — we know that those elements can sometimes prevent broader participation,” Mitchell said. “Through this program, we hope to make Pell grants available to dual enrollment students to help defray those costs as well.”
During Monday’s announcement, King participated in a roundtable discussion with CSM President Bradley Gottfried, enrollment staff from Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert county school systems, and past and current dual enrollment students.
Gottfried said that dual enrollment courses are a great way to introduce students to college who may not have been thinking that college was in their future.
“For students who are unsure about going to college, this can help bridge the gap,” added Alicia Jones, supervising school counselor for Charles County Public Schools.
Taking dual enrollment classes in high school can also help reduce the costs of college further on. A student could complete their first year of college by the time they graduate high school, Gottfried said.
Tierra Harris of Hollywood, a high school senior, said dual enrollment was something she jumped on when she had the chance.
“In the long run, it’s cheaper, it saves money, it saves time,” Harris said.
Hassan Yousaf of Hughesville, a CSM student who took CSM Access classes during high school, said the costs can be prohibitive for many students.
“As a college student, we can take advantage of scholarships,” Yousaf said. “But coming at it as a high school student, the cost can be a real impediment.”
Taylor Mutchler of Huntingtown, a high school senior, said she has earned 27 college credits through dual enrollment at CSM. She said she preferred taking dual enrollment classes to Advanced Placement classes. AP classes are taught by high school teachers, and students can earn some college credit by getting a “3” or higher on the annual AP exam.
“Suppose I was having a bad day and I got a ‘2’? I’d have literally wasted a whole school year. This is better because I want my work to be based on more than one exam. That was really very appealing to me,” Mutchler said.