DE loses funds: Students now pay

Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2011

High school students interested in taking college courses may face a stumbling block due to the loss of funding provided by the Neal Trust for dual enrollment.
For several years, students at W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller high schools have had the opportunity to take classes through Jefferson Davis Community College with full costs being paid through a grant from the Neal Trust. But with the trust now dissolved, those funds have been lost — although schools have worked out a plan with JDCC to continue the program.
And while it will likely have fewer participants because of the cost, college officials said the program will be stronger.
For some students, participation in dual enrollment or trade school programs gives them a leg up on higher education or even a job while they are still in high school.
New plan, but higher costs to students
Last year — the first year after the Neal Trust dissolved — dual enrollment was put on hold. But Jefferson Davis has worked out a plan with the two high schools to enroll students in college-level classes to be taken on campus.
Becky Edge, counselor at T.R. Miller High School, said students there will participate in the program this year, but the expenses will be their own.
“Any student who takes the dual enrollment classes will have to pay the tuition on their own,” Edge said. “We are so lucky to have had those classes paid for the students. The dual enrollment program is available at other schools, but nobody else had it paid for. We have been very fortunate.”
Edge said fewer students will be participating because of the increase in expense to the student.
“Typically, we had about 20 students taking the classes through Jefferson Davis,” Edge said. “This year we have less than 10 participating.”
W.S. Neal counselor Tammy Weeks said the numbers aren’t looking good for the classes through Jefferson Davis by students at the school.
“In the past, practically all of our honor students were taking dual enrollment classes,” Weeks said. “This year we have one student signed up for those classes.”
Finances are the sole reason for the drop in the number of students taking the college-credit classes, Weeks said.
“The classes had been fully paid in previous years,” Weeks said. “It’s a shame that has changed. The students who wanted to take dual enrollment classes aren’t even given a discount and that’s keeping most of them out of the program. Since they are still in high school, they couldn’t even get a grant to help pay tuition.”
Carol Bates, dean of instruction for Jefferson Davis Community College, said students enrolled in the program will likely see a better result with the change of the program.
“In the past, our teachers have gone to the high school campus to teach the courses offered through the program,” Bates said. “With these changes, students will be coming to our campus for classes. We believe students will do better on our campus, and it gives them a better understanding of college by being on the campus at Jefferson Davis.”
Bates said accommodations have been made in the schedule at JDCC to work around high school schedules.
“We have scheduled two early classes to accommodate the dual enrollment students,” Bates said. “We have an ethics in society class that will begin at 7:25 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday’s and a Western civilization class beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This will allow the dual enrollment students to attend classes on our campus in what would be their first period time slot at their high school.”
Bates said the schedule has also allowed traditional college students an opportunity to get an early class into their day as well.
“This should be a wonderful opportunity for everyone,” Bates said. “We have had some of our traditional students sign up for those early classes, which means the high school students will be learning along with college students.”
Other options
Although the dual enrollment classes through Jefferson Davis Community College have to be paid for by the students and their families, Weeks said there is a free option for some students who are interested in courses beyond the normal high school instruction.
“A lot of our students are on a technical college track, and there are opportunities for them to take dual enrollment classes at Reid State Technical College,” Weeks said. “Through Reid State, there is no cost to our students who take those courses.”
Weeks said there are currently as many as a dozen students taking advantage of the no-cost courses at the Evergreen institution.
“We have 10 or 12 students who are taking classes at Reid State,” Weeks said. “Some of them started during the summer classes and will be going on through the year in night classes.”
Weeks said the opportunity to take classes at Reid State will help those who plan to attend a four-year college in the future.
“By getting certified in a skill, some of our students will have an opportunity for better earning potential even if they plan to go on to a four-year college,” Weeks said. “If they get a skill now, they can get a better paying job while they attend college. It’s a great opportunity and we’re glad some of our students are taking advantage of that opportunity.”
Students also have the opportunity to take advanced placement classes — classes that give them college-level instruction and the chance to take an exam that, if they score high enough, can earn college credit.
Brewton Superintendent Lynn Smith said T.R. Miller offers AP courses in English and history, and some students have been able to take online courses to expand their opportunities.
For those who don’t plan to earn a four-year degree, Neal and Miller students also have the opportunity to attend classes at the Career-Technical Center, where they can learn skills such as welding and construction to get started on a career.
How much?
But for Brewton and East Brewton high school students, the dual enrollment program at JDCC offers the best opportunity to get the college experience early, because the classes will be on the college campus.
Dual enrollment classes at Jefferson Davis Community College will carry the same tuition and fee schedule as any course taken at the college, Bates said.
“The two classes will give the student six hours of credit when they complete the course,” Bates said. “The cost for six hours is $760 which covers tuition and fees for the two courses offered in the dual enrollment program.”
Bates said students who sign up for dual enrollment must also meet eligibility requirements before being allowed to attend classes.
“Every student must pass a placement test,” Bates said. “High school students must also have written approval from the school’s principal and counselor.”
Bates said students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades may apply for admission in dual enrollment classes through their school.

Email newsletter signup