Just in time for the start of a new academic year, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education has awarded $910,000 in individual grants to 22 public colleges and universities to expand opportunities for high school students to get a jump start on college.
Grants funded through the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP) will allow students to take free or low-cost college courses at local campuses and, in some cases, attend classes taught on location at their high schools or on line. CDEP students earn college credit toward an associate or bachelor’s degree, often saving thousands of dollars in the process. Along with cost savings, research shows that dual enrollment courses help prepare students for the rigor and expectations of college-level work, making the experience especially valuable for 1st generation students and economically disadvantaged students who may not have access to college preparatory experiences and opportunities. In Massachusetts dual enrollment students who enroll in community colleges are 50 percent less likely to require developmental (remedial) classes compared to their peers who had not taken a dual enrollment course.
“We are thrilled to be able to help these students earn college credit as they start to develop their career pathways,” said Education Secretary Jim Peyser. “Dual enrollment is an important part of our administration’s broader commitment to expanding early college experiences.”
“As a new academic year begins, we want to open the dual enrollment doors as wide as possible, serving as many students as we can,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “We know that this experience is a game-changer for young people, especially those who come from families where no one has attended college before. The program also strengthens the partnerships between high schools and local colleges, allowing for meaningful collaborations that support student success.”
“Creating access to higher education is one of our core values,” Fitchburg State University President Richard S. Lapidus said. “We are grateful that this support from the Commonwealth will allow us to continue and expand upon the opportunities for students in our partner high schools.”
Last year, CDEP funding provided for the enrollment of slightly more than 2,000 students. This year’s projected enrollment is 3,380. The primary goal of the fiscal year 2017 funding is to “increase dual enrollment of underrepresented students, which may include first-generation college students, low-income or economically disadvantaged students, students of color, and particularly male students of color.”
The following colleges and universities are among those chosen to receive funding:
The University of Massachusetts Boston will give students in Boston and Quincy an opportunity to enroll in a 2-semester course sequence, allowing them to adjust to college-level math work in the familiar setting of their own high school before taking a second course at the UMass Boston campus.
Fitchburg State University will expand its partnerships with area high schools to include Leominster High School, and will offer courses to groups (cohorts) of students in the late afternoon and on Saturdays to accommodate their schedules. Fitchburg State served 95 students through the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership last year, and is looking to expand that by 50 percent this year with the additional grant funding. The university’s program already serves students through Upward Bound as well as agreements with Fitchburg High School and the Sizer School.
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will partner with the city of Pittsfield and Berkshire Community College to create a summer academy for students who will earn up to six college credits.
Bristol Community College, which annually serves the largest number of dual enrollment students in the state, will include early college awareness activities, campus visits and financial aid workshops to raise the college aspirations of the students in Fall River and New Bedford, communities which have some of the lowest educational attainment levels in the U.S. for cities of their sizes.
Holyoke Community College will launch a new, three-tiered College Now program for sophomores, juniors and seniors at targeted local high schools. The college is one of 44 institutions participating in the U.S. Department of Education’s experimental pilot to allow use of Pell grants for dual enrollment coursework and related expenses.
More information on the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership is available on the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education website.