Dayton goes to bat for Concurrent Enrollment
Without funding, Utah’s concurrent enrollment program may go the way of the dodo.
Concurrent enrollment is a program that allows high school students to earn college credit and high school credit at the same time.
The program has gained popularity since it’s inception in 1988. According to the Utah State Office of Education 26,680 students took advantage of concurrent enrollment during the 2004-2005 school year.
However, Rep. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said increased participation in the program has taken a financial toll on the Utah System of Higher Education. The Legislature provides $30 per credit hour, $20 of that goes to public schools in Utah and the remaining $10 is given to the USHE. However, the cost for USHE is twice that amount.
Dayton said the program has, "become a victim of its own success."
Her solution is House Bill 151, which proposes a student fee of up to $30 per credit hour.
She hopes to make concurrent enrollment a sustainable program so that it will continue to be an option for Utah students. Dayton, whose mother earned her college degree at the age of 55, wants high school students to have the option of getting their degrees a little more quickly.
"It is my greatest desire that no students in the state of Utah have to wait until they’re 55," Dayton said.
The Utah Commissioner of Higher Education, Richard E. Kendell, supports Dayton in her efforts.
"We thank Representative Margaret Dayton, she has recognized a problem in this state," he said. "All of us are very concerned about the quality of this program."
President of the Utah State Senate, John L. Valentine, is also behind her.
In a written statement he said, "I am pleased that Representative Margaret Dayton has taken up the challenge of adequately funding Concurrent Enrollment. I support her effort in bringing stability to this program."
Kathryn Adair, a member of the Park City school board, agrees that concurrent enrollment can be beneficial.
"Some students, through concurrent enrollment and AP opportunities, have their Associates Degree when they’re finished with high school," she said.
Although, Adair cautions that some students who aren’t prepared for the challenge of concurrent enrollment may adversely effect their college grade point average through the program.
Another benefit of concurrent enrollment is allowing students to get college credit for a fraction of the price. Dayton said 47 states have a form of concurrent enrollment and in some cases charge as much as full tuition. Her proposed $30 fee per credit hour is minimal compared to the cost of college tuition. Before fees, Utah Valley State College charges $190 per credit hour.
Adair said the Park City School District only has a small offering of AP classes compared to other schools in the state.
"The reason we don’t have as much of that is because we don’t have as large a course offering," she explained.
She also cautioned that some students may unintentionally hurt their college grade point average by taking a concurrent enrollment class.
While Park City would not be as effected if concurrent enrollment were no longer offered to students in Utah, Adair said it would be unfortunate to no longer have that option.
"For the students who are planning to do that, it would definitely be a loss," she said, adding that the school board is trying to find ways to inform students about the non-traditional opportunities that are available to them.
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