By Kate Whitney
College can be expensive enough for those who are fortunate enough to attend, and student loans are no joke. So why on earth should you sign up for a course and take on the financial burden before you’re even through high school?
(Hint: because you may be able to take up to two college courses for free, fulfill high school requirements, and transfer those credits to your college or university once you’ve been accepted, saving you money and time in the future!)
Vermont Dual Enrollment is a statewide program for high school juniors and seniors to access up to two college courses with tuition fully reimbursed through a voucher system approved by their high school. A fundamental goal of Dual Enrollment is to help students understand that they can do college-level work and realize some of the opportunities available in college. What’s more, a recent study of Tennessee’s Dual Enrollment program showed that community college students in Tennessee were 2.5 times more likely to complete an associate degree within two years if they had participated in dual enrollment during high school.
“This is an amazing, amazing opportunity,” said Kristen Kilbashian, M.S., a pre-college academic advisor for UVM Professional and Continuing Education, “A lot of times the students are taking classes to fulfill high school requirements, so if they’re trying to meet one of their English requirements in high school or their history requirement, they’ll take both through us, so they’re doing a kind of double-dip, they’re fulfilling a high school requirement while also building their college portfolio.”
Vermont Dual Enrollment Fast Facts:
- A voucher covers the cost of tuition (up to four credits per voucher, up to two vouchers per student).
- Courses are offered during the summer and academic school year, both on campus and online.
- Vouchers are awarded on a semester-by-semester basis, and unused vouchers expire every semester (you can apply again).
- Students must get approval for dual enrollment from their high school guidance counselor to ensure they receive high school credit.
- If a student changes their mind and wants to attend a different college, the student needs to apply for another voucher.
- If the student drops the course within the college or university’s published add/drop period, the voucher will not be applied, and it is available for use in a different semester.
Student Eligibility (from the State of Vermont Agency of Education website)
- Resident of Vermont
- High school junior or senior
- Students who attend a school that is publicly funded including a Vermont career technical center
- Students who attend an approved independent high school and are publicly funded by their hometowns
- Students who are assigned to a public school through the High School Completion Program
- Students who are Home Study students
UVM Tuition Discounts for High School Students
While many Vermonters are aware of the long-simmering controversy over the Dual Enrollment program’s exclusion of private school students that do not use a taxpayer-funded voucher to pay tuition, there’s still an opportunity for savings.
“High schoolers in private schools can still take Dual Enrollment classes, that is not limited,” said Kilbashian. “However, the Dual Enrollment voucher program is limited to high schoolers in public high schools. Unless you are attending a private school because of some special circumstance, the voucher system does not apply to you. However, as a high schooler in the state of Vermont— actually, as a high schooler in general—you are eligible for a 50% tuition discount.” The Tuition and Fees Pre-College web page includes the most current costs and discounts.
Vermont Dual Enrollment Support at UVM
UVM offers helpful tips on the Dual Enrollment Voucher application process available here, but Kilbashian urges students and parents to speak to their high school guidance counselor first to ensure that they can receive the approval for the specific course they wish to take and receive its credit once the course is completed.
Although it is a multi-step process, Kilbashian believes the benefits of Dual Enrollment and UVM’s Pre-College programs are clear: tuition savings, transferable credits, the opportunity to showcase your talents to recruiters, and experience a college course (more than 100 available) in high school—and she hopes that more students become aware/take advantage of this incredible program.
“We have so many opportunities that may not get out to the general audience,” Kilbashian said. “It’s just one of those things that I wish more high school students understood the benefits of taking a class at UVM.”