Texarkana, TX- Texarkana College Trustees learned today that dual credit courses offer students a significant advantage when it comes to college completion. Dual credit courses, delivered through partnerships between high schools and colleges, offer high school students the option to take college-level courses on their own campus at a fraction of the cost of typical university tuition. Students simultaneously earn high school and college credit, saving college-bound students thousands of dollars in tuition and valuable time toward degree completion. However, research recently released from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) shows that economically disadvantaged students across the state are less likely to complete dual credit courses, raising questions as to why the disparity in enrollment exists.
The THECB commissioned the RAND Corporation to conduct a study on dual credit courses offered on high school campuses across Texas. Data from the study shows there is a profound impact on the likelihood of a student persisting toward college completion if they take dual credit courses in high school. However, costs associated with dual credit enrollment have proven to be a barrier for economically disadvantaged students.
TC President James Henry Russell said TC and area superintendents recognize that disparities exist right here in Bowie County when it comes to dual credit enrollment by economically disadvantaged students.
“Dual credit enrollment in Bowie County high schools does not mirror districts’ demographic profiles,” Russell said. “There is a demonstrated need to provide greater opportunities for participation in dual credit courses to students who are identified as economically disadvantaged. We have to help more students in our county reach their goals of earning a college credential— and this means making dual credit courses more affordable for families considered at risk.”
Students residing in Bowie County currently pay $100 per course to enroll in a 3-hour academic dual credit course through TC. Compared to the cost for a student who enrolls in the same course after high school graduation at TC, this represents a cost savings of approximately $200 per course. However, for students continuing on to a state public university, the savings are even greater— averaging $1,000 or more per course for students. TC serves more than 1,400 area students each semester through dual credit enrollment.
Research shows that students with as little as six hours of dual credit not only have an advantage toward college completion but also build the confidence they need to persist.
Russell said discussions between TC and Bowie County school district officials are leaning toward a plan to offset the cost of dual credit courses for economically disadvantaged students, providing assistance for families who can’t afford the dual credit course enrollment fee. The TC Foundation is working to identify potential funding sources for the plan that may include partnerships with private donors, ISDs, and education foundations. The cost-reduction plan would be exclusively for economically disadvantaged Bowie County residents to complete core academic courses up to twelve hours of earned credit.
“We will need help from private donors and foundations to make this plan work,” said TC Board President Kyle Davis. “TC cannot rely on state funding to help with this effort. We will have to build the fund from the ground up with help from our stakeholders.”
Davis said almost half of students enrolled in area high schools report household earnings that qualify their families as economically disadvantaged, but TC’s dual credit population does not reflect that demographic.
“We want to reward students in Bowie County that pay taxes by helping them have a better chance of getting six to twelve hours of high-quality dual credit before they graduate from high school,” Davis said.
Russell said policymakers across the state are studying the data collected in the RAND report to determine the future of dual credit offerings in Texas public schools.
“They know it’s an incredible saving for students, but they are also looking at the level of academic rigor and costs associated with the courses,” said Russell. “They are questioning if it is worth it— and the data is leading them toward the conclusion that it definitely is. By offering affordable and accessible dual credit courses on high school campuses, we are doing our part in Northeast Texas to reach the State’s Higher Education goal of 60x30TX— where 60% of Texans age 25-34 will hold a college certificate or degree by the year 2030. Dual credit offerings are a win-win scenario for everyone concerned.”