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Summer college courses give high schoolers a head start

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BURLINGTON – Gov. Peter Shumlin joined with students, Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding, and others on Tuesday  to encourage Vermonters to apply for summer dual enrollment courses ahead of upcoming registration deadlines.

“The dual enrollment program is so important because it gives young Vermonters exposure to college-level courses as well as giving them a head start on paying for college,” Shumlin said. “Vermont does very well graduating kids from high school, but we need to do more to move them beyond so they’re ready for the good-paying jobs available right here at home. This program helps us do that.”

Gov. Shumlin fought for and signed into law legislation in 2013 that expanded dual enrollment, a program that allows students to earn college credit for free while still in high school. The law has been a success, with the number of Vermont students taking advantage of dual enrollment doubling from around 600 in 2013 to almost 1,300 in 2014.

The funding for this program was covered 100 percent by state General Fund dollars through 2015, at which point the funding was to be split 50/50 between General Fund dollars and local school budgets. In the past months it had become clear that this proposed change would be administratively burdensome and may threaten the equity of the program by making it unavailable to some students.

The governor and the Legislature worked to fix this funding issue, passing legislation to ensure that the 50 percent local share will be paid directly out of the education fund. The funding from the education fund will come from the Flexible Pathways allocation, so will not create new financial pressure for the education fund this year.

With the funding fix in place, Shumlin and others encouraged Vermont kids to apply for summer dual enrollment courses. Students can do so by visiting their high school guidance counselors as soon as possible. For more information students should visit www.vtdualenrollment.org.

“Students who take dual enrollment courses are more likely to go to college and to succeed when they get there,” said Chancellor Spaulding. “We are enrolling now for summer courses and encourage students to participate in this opportunity to experience college and to get ahead with your education.”

Gov. Shumlin has made making college more affordable a priority. In addition to expanding dual enrollment, the governor also pushed for passage of the Vermont Strong Scholars program, which allows students in Vermont to earn up to one year of free college tuition if they agree to stay and work in high-needs economic sectors after graduation. With dual enrollment, Vermont Strong Scholars, and others programs combined, Vermont’s young adults can now earn up to two free years of college education.

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