Dual Enrollment 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 a public 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. Public 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 full-time equivalents (FTEs), including school district and institution of higher education enrollment. In calculating the combined 1.2 FTEs, 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.
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 participated 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 were 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 about advanced courses or programs available to students, including dual credit courses or programs. There are requirements specific to notifying students and their parents about the CHS program and the RS program.
Washington College Grant.
The Washington College Grant program is a state financial aid program, administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council (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 0 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" is a defined term that generally means students from low-income households.
For eligible students enrolled in college in the high school (CHS) courses, the program must subsidize the 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 public 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 or the semester equivalent, that were not required to be waived by the public 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 (WSAC), in consultation with specified parties, must develop and publish an income attestation form to be used to determine student eligibility for the dual credit subsidy program and 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.
Prior to course scheduling or course registration for the next school term, public schools that serve students in any of grades 9 through 12 must provide, via email and other methods, students and their parents with information on each available dual credit program, information about the dual credit subsidy program, and information about the dual credit incentive rebate.
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.
It is explicitly stated that every school district, charter school, and state-tribal compact school must allow eligible students to participate in the RS program.
High school graduates who have 15 or fewer college credits to earn before meeting associate degree requirements may continue participation in the RS program and earn up to 15 college credits during the summer academic term following their high school graduation.
The definition of "eligible students" used for the dual credit subsidy program is made applicable to fee waivers for low-income RS students.
Summer Program. The RS Summer School (RS Summer) Program is made a permanent program. Subject to appropriation, 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 15 or fewer college credits to earn before meeting associate degree requirements are eligible to earn a maximum of 15 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.
Enrollment Limits. Students participating in RS programs may be funded up to a combined maximum enrollment of 1.6 full-time equivalents (FTEs), including school district and institution of higher education enrollment. In calculating the combined FTEs, the OSPI must adopt rules to fund a student's enrollment in RS courses provided by the institution of higher education during the summer academic term.
It is declared that the RS programs as a service delivery model, associated funding levels beyond 1.0 FTE per student, and funding for high school graduates enrolled in RS courses, are not part of the state's statutory program of basic education.
Historical Agreements. The provision stating that the statutes governing the RS program are in addition to and not intended to adversely affect agreements between school districts and public institutions of higher education in effect on April 11, 1990, no longer applies to agreements in effect "in the future."
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.
As compared to the original bill, the substitute bill:
(In support) There is bipartisan and bicameral support for dual credit. The bill provides benefits to those who need it the most by covering fees and other costs for low-income families. It will also provide a financial incentive for students who complete a certain number of credits through dual credit courses. The bill will save the state money because the more the state can cover costs through community and technical colleges, the more it saves in the long run. Low-income students are less likely to take advantage of opportunities they might be qualified for, which makes the equity component of the bill very important.
There are documented benefits of dual credit, including an increased likelihood of completing a degree or credential. Research indicates that out-of-pocket expenses for students is a barrier to participation in dual credit. The Running Start Program should be offered in the summer.
(Other) Dual credit enrollment opportunities are popular. This bill takes good steps, but it is limited in scope. The costs associated with dual credit can be a barrier for many students, not those just from low-income families. The bill requires students to prove they are poor to get a subsidy, which creates bureaucracy. The Legislature should fully fund the subsidies that they approve because school districts are unable to shoulder those costs without funding from the state.