Home > Advocacy and policy > HB 444 would modify dual enrollment

HB 444 would modify dual enrollment

Dual enrollment is an important educational option for gifted students, especially those students whose home high schools don’t offer a wide variety of AP or advanced courses, or those who prefer the more serious environment of a college campus.

Students taking part in Georgia’s Dual Enrollment Program take classes at colleges or universities — public or private — at no cost, and earn both high-school credit and college credit for those classes.

HB 444, which passed the Georgia House of Representatives last week and is now in the Georgia Senate’s Higher Education Committee, would make two significant changes to dual enrollment:

  1. Dual enrollment at four-year colleges, whether part of the University System of Georgia or private institutions, would be open only to high-school juniors and seniors. This is a change from existing policy, under which freshmen and sophomores also are eligible. (Under the bill, sophomores could still take classes at the state’s technical colleges.)
  2. The Dual Enrollment Program would pay for a maximum of 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) of college-level classes per high-school student. Once this cap of “covered” hours is reached, students could take additional dual enrollment classes by either A) paying out of pocket, or B) charging the additional dual enrollment hours against their future HOPE Grant or HOPE Scholarship.

To explain this second point, let’s say a high-school student has participated in dual enrollment since her junior year. By the time she reaches the spring semester of her senior year, she has taken 30 semester hours of classes at Georgia State University, all of which have been paid for by the Georgia Dual Enrollment Program. Now, she wants to take an additional 12 semester hours of classes at GSU. Under HB 444, she could either pay for those classes herself, or she could have them paid for by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC), in which case the 12 semester hours would be deducted from the maximum credit hours allowed to her under the HOPE program.

The caps on the HOPE Scholarship are a maximum of 127 semester hours or 190 quarter hours. This bill wouldn’t change those caps.

In our example above, the student taking an additional 12 semester hours at GSU could have those classes paid for by GSFC, applying them toward her HOPE allotment. If she goes on to receive a HOPE Scholarship, she would then have 115 semester hours remaining of HOPE Scholarship eligibility.

I contacted a legislative relations staff member with GSFC, who said it’s his interpretation that if a student exceeded the dual enrollment coverage limit, had additional dual enrollment classes paid for through GSFC, and didn’t end up receiving a HOPE Scholarship, they wouldn’t be required to reimburse the money to the state.

As with any legislation, changes to the bill are likely as it works its way through the legislative process.

My opinion? This is a good and necessary bill, crafted in response to an audit of the dual enrollment program that found explosive growth and spending, as well as some abuse of the program. Dual enrollment students taking one or two classes per semester at a college or university won’t bump into the 30-hour cap. Those who do reach the cap can still take additional classes without paying out of pocket by tapping into their future HOPE award.

The purpose of this bill is to keep the Dual Enrollment Program — and the HOPE program — solvent, and that’s crucial to Georgia’s gifted students.

Categories: Advocacy and policy
  1. Chrystie Leonard
    March 26, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    These changes wouldn’t be favorable to my son and my other kids. My oldest son started dual enrollment after one year of high school and at age 13. If they limit to just Juniors/Seniors he wouldn’t have qualified. He took up to 26 credits a semester split between GA State and Oglethorpe University. Under the new proposal that would mean only 1 semester paid. He would be punished and limited because he can handle the higher course load. He will participate in the dual enrollment program concluding this May having taken 56 credit hours (2 semesters + 1 summer), almost all paid through the state. He will enter GA Tech this summer at 14yo and be a Junior for Biomedical Engineering. This program allowed him to take courses the high school didn’t offer and couldn’t accommodate based on his acceleration needs. We also saved a ton of money and even if he does a minor at Tech (extra year) he still won’t utilize all the Zell Miller credit limit but should have that option. I have three kids behind my older son and we intend to use the dual enrollment program for them too. Would be a shame that this program is further restricted. This is one big reason we have decided to stay and live in GA. College is just so expensive and course/grade acceleration is so difficult in elementary, middle, high schools where they build a box of rules that have never fit with my kids/families goals and capabilities. Thank you to DE my son was free and uninhibited to aggressively pursue his interests and not slow down. BTW: We did this under a homeschool status because not surprising the high school he was linked to could not support his course selection and wouldn’t sign off on the funding app.

    • March 26, 2019 at 3:46 pm

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I concede that the new Dual Enrollment structure might be worse for a few rare kids, like your son. In the argument to keep the program open to younger high-school students (sophomores and up), I would support you, if they maintained the cap on how much money the state would pay for college coursework, whether those classes are taken through Dual Enrollment or after high-school graduation. I support limiting the per-student funding, because I think if the state is paying for one undergraduate degree per student, that’s enough.

  1. April 11, 2019 at 10:22 am

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