The Education Dept. rolls out a $20 million grants program that will test the expansion of Pell Grants to help high school students take college-level courses before they graduate and earn their secondary diploma.
The dual-enrollment program will mark the first time that high school students will have the opportunity to access Federal Pell grants to take college courses before they get to college.
Dual enrollment, in which students enroll in postsecondary coursework while also enrolled in high school, is a promising approach to improve academic outcomes for students from low-income backgrounds.
“A postsecondary education is one of the most important investments students can make in their future. Yet the cost of this investment is higher than ever, creating a barrier to access for some students, particularly those from low-income families,” said Education Secy. Arne Duncan. “We look forward to partnering with institutions to help students prepare to succeed in college.”
Dual enrollment can also facilitate stronger connections between the secondary and postsecondary education sectors by leveraging existing tools that enable closer alignment between secondary schools and postsecondary institutions. For example, some postsecondary institutions have begun using college- and career-ready standards and assessments at the secondary school level as an indicator of academic preparedness for college-level coursework. Despite evidence that dual enrollment programs show promising results for increasing students’ college participation and outcomes, cost can be a barrier: at nearly half of institutions with dual enrollment programs, most students pay out of pocket for tuition.
The objectives of this experiment are to learn about how federal Pell Grant funding can expand opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds to participate in dual enrollment and provide the department with information regarding the number and characteristics of Pell-eligible students who would likely participate in dual enrollment programs.
Title IV-eligible institutions of higher education, in partnership with one or more public secondary schools or local education agencies, are encouraged to apply. Applicants should:
- Require dually enrolled students to enroll in a title IV eligible postsecondary program as regular students
- Provide that students will receive Federal Pell Grants only for coursework that applies towards completion of a postsecondary credential at the participating institution. Such coursework may, but is not required to, apply towards a secondary school diploma.
- Offer students the opportunity to earn the equivalent of at least 12 postsecondary credit hours while also enrolled in a public secondary school.
- Ensure that students are adequately prepared academically for postsecondary-level coursework. This may include ensuring that students meet any relevant requirements that may apply for enrollment, such as grade point average, placement tests, and course prerequisite requirements.
- Provide appropriate student support services, such as academic tutoring, high school to college transition support, guidance counseling, or other comparable services designed to increase student preparation for and success in postsecondary education. These services may be provided by the public secondary school, the institution, the LEA, or by another entity.
For this experiment, the department is particularly interested in dual enrollment arrangements that are aligned with postsecondary degrees and credentials in high-demand fields, including Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science, and those aligned with career pathways and other career preparation programs. These types of dual enrollment arrangements have been shown to produce strong positive outcomes for students.