Governor Kemp Signs Dual Enrollment Bill Aimed at Keeping the Program Sustainable

Cindy Morley

Friday, May 8th, 2020

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Late last week, Governor Brian Kemp signed the House Bill 444 into law and Representative Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), sponsor of the bill, believes this is the best way to keep dual enrollment sustainable.

“We had to do something, the program was financially unsustainable,” said Reeves, one of the Governor’s Floor Leaders. “Making changes was necessary to keep the program going. It’s grown expeditiously over the past few years and is just not sustainable the way it’s going.”

Reeves told IAG that dual enrollment has a current fiscal year budget of about $100 million and a 2018 state audit found that general fund spending for the program had increased by more than 325% over the prior five years.

“This bill is intended to set parameters, to create a guardrail that keeps the budget in the $100 million range,” said Reeves. “And that’s extremely important right now with the challenges we are facing as a result of COVID-19.”

State agencies were told last week they should plan on cutting more than $3.5 billion from their budgets in the upcoming fiscal year — a 14 percent cut — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. With this in mind, Reeves said dual enrollment could possibly be impacted even more.

The changes set by the new law will reduce the number of classes high school students can take on college campuses by capping the college credit hours that would be paid through state funds to 30 hours. Classes taken as part of the dual enrollment program must be college core classes – not electives. The new requirements also limit the program, with some exceptions, to only 11th-and 12th-grade students.

“Even with these changes, this is still one of the most generous programs in the state,” said Reeves, who added that the dual enrollment program has evolved into “something it was not intended to be.”

Dual enrollment was intended to give students a jumpstart on college,” said Reeves. “It was never intended to replace high school classes with college classes. While the average public school student who dually enrolls takes 17 hours of college credit classes, we had some students taking 60 to 70 hours — which was driving up the costs and making the program unsustainable.

“We had to draw a line somewhere, and we had to make a lot of decisions to keep the program going,” said Reeves. “We wanted to make sure we kept the dual enrollment program going for students who wanted to take college courses while still in high school, and we felt capping it at 30 hours was the best answer.”