Higher ed chair says fully fund­ing con­cur­rent en­roll­ment a pri­or­ity

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - METRO | STATE - BY K.S. MCNUTT Staff Writer km­c­nutt@ok­la­homan.com

Mov­ing away from her fam­ily to at­tend col­lege was scary for Luana An­tuono, but she wasn’t ner­vous about the aca­demics.

“LuLu” An­tuono, of Ard­more, al­ready had a year of col­lege credit un­der her belt — thanks to con­cur­rent en­roll­ment. She had taken classes at Lone Grove High School and at Mur­ray State Col­lege at the same time.

“Go­ing into col­lege I had a to­tal of 24 credit hours. It was nice com­ing in be­cause I al­ready had a feel­ing of the courses and the ma­te­rial,” said An­tuono, a se­nior math­e­mat­ics ed­u­ca­tion ma­jor at South­east­ern Ok­la­homa State Uni­ver­sity.

“In high school you don’t know if you’re go­ing to be pre­pared for col­lege. I had that com­fort and con­fi­dence,” she said.

Since 2005, Ok­la­homa’s con­cur­rent en­roll­ment pro­gram has al­lowed ju­niors and se­niors to earn col­lege credit while still in high school. Se­niors can re­ceive a tu­ition waiver for six credit hours per se­mes­ter.

The Ok­la­homa State Re­gents for Higher Ed­u­ca­tion re­quested $10.6 mil­lion to cover 100 per­cent of the tu­ition waivers next fis­cal year. Right now the state is fund­ing only 27 per­cent, with the col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties cov­er­ing the rest.

In its fi­nal re­port, the state’s task force on the fu­ture of higher ed­u­ca­tion

rec­om­mends con­cur­rent en­roll­ment not only be fully funded, but also ex­panded.

“That is def­i­nitely top pri­or­ity for me,” said Rep. Ja­dine Nol­lan, R-Sands Springs. Nol­lan, a task force mem­ber, chairs the House Com­mit­tee on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Ca­reerTech.

“At the grass­roots, there’s a lot of sup­port for con­cur­rent en­roll­ment,” Nol­lan said.

“The in­di­ca­tors show that stu­dents who take con­cur­rent en­roll­ment classes are bet­ter pre­pared and more con­fi­dent and have bet­ter suc­cess rates when they do go to col­lege,” she said.

A bill au­thored by Sen. Gary Stanis­lawski, R-Tulsa, last year would have pro­vided that ad­di­tional fund­ing, but it failed to ad­vance. Nol­lan said Stanis­lawski is car­ry­ing the bill again this year and she will be the House au­thor.

“We’ve got to put the money into it to al­low th­ese stu­dents to ex­cel and thrive,” she said. “It needs to be one of our top pri­or­i­ties.”

Nol­lan said she is dis­ap­pointed Gov. Mary Fallin didn’t in­clude an in­crease in higher ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing in her pro­posed bud­get.

Con­cur­rent en­roll­ment moves stu­dents through the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem faster and gets them into the work­force faster, Nol­lan said.

“We have to in­vest in our fu­ture work­force. Our econ­omy and Ok­la­homa’s fu­ture de­pends on it,” she said.

The pro­gram also saves fam­i­lies money and re­duces stu­dent debt.

“One thing that al­ways ben­e­fits fam­i­lies is if they can re­duce the cost,” Nol­lan said. “They don’t have the same ex­penses they would have, but th­ese stu­dents still are earn­ing col­lege credit.”

Nol­lan en­vi­sions a path­way for Ok­la­homa’s stu­dents to be able to earn an as­so­ciate de­gree by the time they grad­u­ate from high school. Other states are do­ing it, she said.

Ok­la­homa State Uni­ver­sity-Ok­la­homa City, Ok­la­homa City Com­mu­nity Col­lege and Tulsa Com­mu­nity Col­lege al­ready have launched pro­grams to do that.

Th­ese pi­lot pro­grams have shown great prom­ise, Nol­lan said.

“There’s a lot of mo­men­tum and I think we will see a lot of growth in con­cur­rent en­roll­ment. That’s an­other rea­son why it’s very im­por­tant for it to be prop­erly funded,” she said.

Dur­ing the 2016-17 aca­demic year, 19,358 high school se­niors statewide com­pleted 91,035 col­lege cred­its tu­ition-free. They saved an av­er­age $116 per credit earned, ac­cord­ing to a state re­gents’ re­port.

Pres­i­dent Jack Bryant said con­cur­rent en­roll­ment grew al­most 40 per­cent in two years at Red­lands Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

“I’m los­ing over $1 mil­lion at 27 per­cent,” Bryant said in Au­gust. “I can’t con­tinue to lose fund­ing.”

Luana “LuLu” An­tuono, se­nior at South­east­ern Ok­la­homa State Uni­ver­sity

Rep. Ja­dine Nol­lan, R-Sand Springs

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.