Lawmakers Make Changes to State’s Dual Enrollment Program

Cindy Morley

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

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Georgia lawmakers went into the 2020 legislative session looking for ways to ensure the sustainability of the state’s popular dual enrollment program. Tuesday, members of the Georgia House of Representatives approved House Bill 444 which will reduce the number of classes high school students can take on college campuses.

The bill passed by a 103-67 margin, and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Bill sponsor Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) said changes were necessary to save the program, adding that Georgia “is not abandoning our investment in workforce development.”

House Bill 444 restricts students to a total of 30 college credit hours that would be paid through state funds and limits the program to only 11th and 12th grade students with a few exceptions. According to Reeves, this limit should not hurt students wanting to participate in dual enrollment. He added that the average public school student that dually enrolls takes 17 hours of college credit classes.

Under this legislation, students seeking certification in one of the 17 careers included in the High Demand Career Initiative could also use 30 hours of HOPE Grant funding along with the 30 hours for dual enrollment. The bill limits 10th graders to courses at technical schools. Students dually enrolled in the Technical College System are limited to career tech classes (of which they are 4,500 different classes available).

According to officials, the number of students participating in dual enrollment has nearly doubled in the last four years. Nearly 52,000 students took part in the program in fiscal year 2019. That compares with a low of 8,127 students in the program in 2011 to nearly 30,000 in 2016. Over $100 million was allocated to the program last year and it is expected to cost about $123 million this year. There are 180 different dual enrollment programs across the state.

Because of changes made to the bill by the Senate Higher Education Committee, it had to go back to the House for a vote.