Dual Credit Program Overview.
Dual credit programs allow high school students to earn high school and postsecondary credit at the same time. Dual credit programs can be course-based or exam-based. Course-based dual credit programs can be offered at:
Exam-based dual credit programs allow students to take an exam and apply to receive postsecondary credit with a score of 3 or better for advanced placement course exams, a score of 4 or better for international baccalaureate course exams, and a score of E or better in Cambridge international course exams.
College in the High School.
Students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible to enroll in CHS courses, which are taught by high school teachers with college curricula and overseen by public institutions of higher education. Dual credit is awarded to students who pass a CHS course. The maximum fee an institution of higher education may charge for a CHS course is $65 per college credit, adjusted annually for inflation as specified.
Program Description. Students in grades 11 and 12 are eligible to apply for admission to a participating public institution of higher education to enroll as an RS student. Students in the RS program do not pay tuition, but do pay for educational materials, mandatory fees, and transportation costs. Institutions of higher education must make fee waivers available for low-income RS students. The waiver is funded out of each institution's operating budget, not additional state funding. In addition, many RS students receive book loan funds through college foundations.
Enrollment Limits. The state's operating budget specifies that students participating in RS programs may be funded up to a combined maximum enrollment of 1.2 FTE, including school district and institution of higher education enrollment. In calculating the combined 1.2 FTE, the operating budget allows the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to average an RS student's September through June enrollment to account for differences in the start and end dates for courses provided by the high school and institution of higher education.
The 2022 Supplemental Operating Budget directed the OSPI to adopt rules to fund a participating RS student's enrollment in RS courses during the summer term.
Fee Waivers. The public institutions of higher education must make available fee waivers for low-income running start students and incorporate information about the waivers, to the greatest extent possible, in financial aid counseling, admission information, and individual billing statements. The OSPI, in consultation with the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) must develop a centralized process for school districts to provide students' low-income status to public institutions of higher education.
Annual Reporting. The state's operating budget directs the OSPI, in consultation with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), and the Education Research and Data Center, to annually track and report to the Legislature on the combined FTE experience of students participating in RS programs, including course load analyses at both the high school and community and technical college system.
Summer Pilot Program. In 2020 legislation was enacted that created a two-year RS summer school pilot program (RS pilot) to evaluate interest in and barriers to expanding the RS program to include the summer academic term. Three community colleges are participating in the RS pilot. In addition to students eligible for the RS program, people who graduated from a participating high school in the current school year and who have five or fewer college credits to earn before meeting associate degree requirements are eligible to earn a maximum of five college credits through the RS pilot. A report to the Legislature with findings and recommendations regarding the RS pilot, including recommending whether to expand the RS program to include the summer term, was required in November 2022. The report included recommendations related to: (1) full and consistent RS funding; (2) funding to support summer staff at the high schools; (3) student eligibility; and (4) integrated electronic tracking and reporting.
State Funding for Dual Credit Program Costs.
Since at least 2018, the state has appropriated $4,894,000 per fiscal year to the OSPI to support the administration of dual credit programs and to provide grants to subsidize student fees. While not specifically required, these funds may be used to implement the following programs:
In addition, the 2022 Supplemental Operating Budget appropriated to the OSPI:
Notifications about Dual Credit Programs.
School districts are required to notify students and their parents or guardians about advanced courses or programs available to students, including dual credit courses or programs.
High schools that offer CHS programs must provide general information about the CHS program to all students in grades 8 through 12 and to their parents and guardians. In addition, specific information must be included in the high school catalog, for example, a description and breakdown of the fees charged to students who choose to enroll in a CHS course to earn both high school and college credit.
School districts must provide general information about the RS program to all students in grades 10 through 12 and their parents and guardians, including information about the opportunity to enroll in the RS Program through online courses available at institutions of higher education.
Washington College Grant.
The Washington college grant program is a state financial aid program, administered by the WSAC, that provides postsecondary education grants to students who demonstrate financial need and meet other criteria. Financial need is based on the state's median family income (MFI) and the student's family size. Students with family incomes between zero and 55 percent of the state MFI, adjusted for family size, must receive the maximum grant amount.
Dual Credit Task Force Report.
In 2021 the WSAC was directed to convene a task force to propose strategies to eliminate barriers to low-income students participating in dual credit programs. As directed, the task force issued a report in December 2021. The 42-page report includes specific recommendations related to addressing financial barriers, improving communication, and other topics.
Subsidy Program for Students' Dual Credit Course Costs.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) must administer a program to subsidize certain dual credit program costs for eligible students. "Eligible students" means students: (a) who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals based on the income of the students' household; (b) who are categorically eligible for free school meals without an application and not subject to income verification; and (c) whose parent or legal guardian attests that they demonstrate financial need equivalent to the financial need required to receive the maximum Washington college grant, using the attestation form developed as described below.
For eligible students enrolled in college in the high school (CHS) courses, the program must subsidize permitted per college credit tuition fees. For eligible students enrolled in career and technical education dual credit courses, the program must subsidize transcription fees assessed by the institution of higher education. For eligible students taking advanced placement exams, international baccalaureate exams, and Cambridge international exams, the program must subsidize student fees related to exam registration and administration.
For eligible students enrolled in running start (RS) courses, the program must subsidize: (1) any fees required for enrollment, up to 18 credits per quarter, that were not required to be waived by the institution of higher education; and (2) textbooks and other required course materials. To subsidize these RS costs, the OSPI must transmit to each public institution of higher education $1,000 per full-time equivalent RS student per academic year. At the end of the academic year, any unused funds must be returned to the OSPI.
The Washington Student Achievement Council, in consultation with the OSPI, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, public four-year institutions of higher education, and other interested parties must develop and publish an income attestation form to be used to determine student eligibility for the dual credit subsidy program, reduced per college credit tuition fees for CHS courses, and fee waivers for RS courses.
The OSPI must collaborate with the institutions of higher education to facilitate the identification of eligible students who qualify for reduced per college credit tuition fees for CHS courses or fee waivers for RS courses.
The statutes establishing the Academic Acceleration Incentive Program, the CHS per-credit allocations and per-credit subsidies, and the Washington Dual Enrollment Scholarship Pilot Program are repealed.
Notifications about Dual Credit Programs.
Each quarter or trimester, public schools that serve students in any of grades 9 through 12 must provide, via email and other methods, to students and their parents or legal guardians, information on each available dual credit program, information about the dual credit subsidy program, including the income attestation form, and information about the dual credit incentive rebate. To the extent feasible, the information must be translated into the primary language of each parent or legal guardian. Public schools may consolidate this notification with other required dual credit program notifications.
College in the High School.
The maximum per college credit tuition fee for a CHS course is reduced to $42.50, annually adjusted for inflation as specified. With regard to the information that must be included in the high school catalog or equivalent, the statement "college credit earned upon successful completion of a program course may count only as elective credit if transferred to another institution of higher education" is changed to "most but not all institutions of higher education may recognize and accept this credit."
Waivers. The definition of "eligible students" used for the subsidy program described above is made applicable to fee waivers for low-income RS students. The requirement that the OSPI, in consultation with the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) develop a centralized process for school districts to provide students' low-income status to public institutions of higher education is removed. Requirements to notify students about fee waivers must be incorporated into the registration process.
Summer Program. The RS summer school (RS summer) program is made a permanent program. Subject to state funding, the OSPI must: (1) in consultation with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, select up to 6 community colleges that choose to participate in the program, two of which must be located east of the crest of the Cascade mountains and one of which must be in a county with a population between 115,000 and 150,000; and (2) in consultation with the public four-year institutions of higher education, select one institution that chooses to participate in the program.
In addition to students eligible for the RS program, people who graduated from a participating high school in the current school year and who have 10 or fewer college credits to earn before meeting associate degree requirements are eligible to earn a maximum of 10 college credits though the RS summer program.
A report to the Legislature with findings and recommendations regarding the RS summer program, including recommending whether to expand the RS summer program to include additional public institutions of higher education, is required by November 1, 2024.
Dual Credit Incentive Rebate.
The dual credit incentive rebate is created. The WSAC must award a one-time, lump sum rebate of $1,000 to a Washington college grant recipient who earned at least 24 quarter college credits or the equivalent at the postsecondary level through one or more dual credit programs and who earned at least an additional 24 quarter credits or the equivalent at the postsecondary level after graduating high school.