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County/PHCC tuition pact OK'd
Dual enrollment tuition waived

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) and the Henry County Schools have reached an agreement that will eliminate all costs of dual enrollment tuition for students and their families.

The dual enrollment program lets qualified students take college courses at the same time they take high school classes. It gives graduates a head start on higher education by enabling them to enter college with credits.

The new agreement will take effect this fall, according to a PHCC news release. A similar dual enrollment plan already has been approved by the Patrick County School Board.

During the past 20 years that PHCC has offered dual enrollment, thousands of students have taken part in the program, but they had to pay a portion of their college tuition.

The goal of the new agreement is to help families better plan for a student’s college education, according to PHCC President Angeline Godwin.

“This is a great opportunity for students to earn college credit at no cost to them or their families and further ensure they are prepared for college and career opportunities when they graduate from high school,” said Jared Cotton, superintendent of the Henry County Schools.

When students complete college courses in high school, they are more likely to pursue higher education after they graduate, Cotton said.

All students in the Henry County Schools — including ACE (Accelerated College Experience) and Piedmont Governor’s School participants — will be eligible to participate in dual enrollment, county school officials said.

Dual enrollment students can complete the requirements for an associate degree in general studies or science. They can graduate from both their high school and PHCC in the same semester.

James Craig is a dually enrolled Bassett High School student who attends the governor’s school. He plans to pursue an advanced degree in marine biology.

Craig noted that the new agreement will save students money now, on community college tuition, and in the future, reducing their courseload — and as a result, their cost — at a four-year institution.

“The fact that I get my associate’s degree in science when my time here (in high school) is finished, is a bonus that will prove to be very beneficial,” he added.

Currently, PHCC offers dual enrollment to Henry County students in motorsports, automotive/autobody, computer-aided drafting and design, building trades and electricity, early childhood, horticulture, agriculture, English, math, sciences, history, government and psychology.

PHCC is working with the the county schools to expand dual enrollment options to serve more students. That may include future courses in the health occupations and information technology fields, college officials said.

Joni Meeks, a dually enrolled Magna Vista High School student participating in the ACE program, plans to apply to PHCC’s nursing program after she graduates this year.

“The ACE program is a great opportunity to get higher education while saving money,” she said. “The program saved me a lot of time in the long run so I will not have to spend as much time in school in the next two years that I would have” otherwise.

“I would advise any high school student planning to further their education after high school to participate in the program,” Meeks said.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, average annual tuition and fees in 2011-2012 at public four-year colleges was more than $8,000, while community college tuition and fees averaged just under $3,000.

The agreement with the Henry County Schools will be particularly helpful to dual enrollment students since they do not qualify for financial aid or scholarships under federal law, which specifies that recipients must be high school graduates, the PHCC release stated.

Last semester, 620 students from high schools in Martinsville and Henry, Patrick and Franklin counties and the governor’s school took dual-enrollment classes at PHCC.


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