Northeast State was chosen by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in a new federal program allowing low-income high school students to apply for Federal Pell grants to pay for certain dual enrollment courses.
The College was one of 44 post-secondary institutions in 23 states chosen for the program, which is expected to give an estimated 10,000 high school students access to $20 million in Pell Grants. Nearly 80 percent of the selected sites are community colleges.
The Federal Pell Grant program is the largest federal student aid grant program, and grants do not have to be repaid. The program is expected to get underway this summer.
Northeast State’s Dual Enrollment Program is a cooperative effort between local high schools, home-schools, and the College. Currently, the College has more than 600 students in its program.
The program provides qualified high school students an opportunity to earn college credit by enrolling in college classes while still in high school. Students specifically targeted to benefit from the Pell Grant program will be enrolled in Career and Technical Education (CTE) dual enrollment courses as part of the Northeast State Career Academy.
Students who take CTE dual enrollment courses have the opportunity to enroll in challenging coursework pertaining to the career of their choice. Some students may even be eligible to earn a Technical Certificate from Northeast State by the time they graduate from high school.
While dual enrollment models have shown promising academic outcomes for students, especially those first-generation and low-income groups, cost can be a barrier because most students pay out of pocket to attend classes.
Under the experimental program, existing financial aid rules will be waived that prohibit high school students from accessing Federal Pell Grants. Through this experiment, the Department hopes to learn about the impact of providing earlier access to financial aid on low-income students’ college access, participation, and success.
“Innovation is an important underpinning in our efforts to expand college access and increase college completion for our nation’s students,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “These sites will help us learn how the availability of Pell Grants impacts participation and success in dual enrollment programs.”
The Department of Education expects to evaluate the program in three to four years to determine its effectiveness and decide if the program can be expanded.