Federal efforts would expand college access, opportunity to high schoolers

The costs of college textbooks and fees, as well as being responsible for their own transportation, proved too much for some students in Career and College Promise, a dual-enrollment program at Guilford Technical Community College.

A couple reduced the number of classes they were taking. The others left the program.

“My girls would have had to have dropped except for the fact we had a credit card,” said Pat Raines of Greensboro. She and her husband charged the textbooks, which she estimated cost about $400 or $500 a semester, for each of their granddaughters. The Raineses also charged the student fees for their granddaughters, for whom they have custody.

Their granddaughters, Andrea and Stephanie Raines, will have completed a full semester of college when they graduate from Western High on June 5.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Education want more students, particularly those from low-income families, not only to access dual-enrollment programs such as the one at GTCC but also not to have to worry as much about their costs.

The Dual Enrollment Pell Experiment would reach about 10,000 high school students across the nation over three years and allow them to access a share of about $20 million in federal Pell Grants for dual-enrollment courses.

GTCC is the only college or university in North Carolina and one of 44 nationwide chosen to participate.

Dual-enrollment programs are “powerful ways” to introduce students to rigorous courses, particularly for those students in low-income families or who would be first-generation college students, U.S. Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell told reporters during a press call.

Next page: How the dual enrollment program works

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