Georgia lawmakers consider limiting state funds for dual enrollment

Education

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A new bill could limit the number of Georgia high school students who are dual-enrolled in college classes.

If passed, the state would pay for fewer of those classes, and fewer students would qualify. Lawmakers say it’s an effort to keep costs down.

The move is backed by Governor Brian Kemp.

Some members of the House Higher Education Committee say the Dual Enrollment Program’s budget has jumped from just over $20 million in 2015 to more than $100 million annually. They say that by cutting back they can keep the program going.

House Bill 444 would limit most high school students to about 30 college credit hours.

Juniors and seniors would get preference, and sophomores could receive state money for career-technical classes, based on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. Freshmen would be cut out altogether.

Some lawmakers still have questions.

Savannah state Sen. Lester Jackson says while it’s important to keep costs down, he’s concerned about which Savannah schools would remain eligible for state funds.

He also wants to be sure the revised program won’t impede first-generation college students, saying if it does lawmakers “should probably go in a different direction”

Jackson plans to check with Savannah-Chatham County Public School leaders for their thoughts and concerns.

The revised bill would strip funding for many fine arts and physical education courses. However, the program would still pay for math, science, social studies, foreign languages and English.

Jackson doesn’t expect the Senate’s higher education committee to take up the legislation for at least another week.

The Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools System says college credit enrollment has jumped 57% since 2017 among its students. They say the dual enrollment program also provides families with their first-ever college enrollment.

They’re encouraging lawmakers to resist any move to scale back dual enrollment.

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