The cost of attending college is rising dramatically. At Penn State, the price of tuition, housing, food, and fees was $9600 per semester in 2007. The cost of books can be $80 to $130 per course. Those who take out loans for college have the added costs of the interest and fees on the loans.
High school students can earn very low cost, college credits through several options that are locally available.
First, take AP courses in high school. By passing the Advanced Placement exam, students earn college credits. This year the charge for the exam is $89 per course. Students taking 2 AP courses in their junior year and 2 courses in their senior year can earn a semester of credits for less than $360.
For example, Penn State awards 6 history credits to students who score a 4 or 5 on the American History AP exam. A student with a Biology AP score of 3 gets 3 credits, a score of 4 earns 4 credits and a score of 5 earns 8 biology credits at Bloomsburg University. Lock Haven University | Shippensburg University | Cornell University | Pitt
Plus, in the proposal for the new statewide graduation requirements, passing the AP exam for a course will also meet the graduation test requirement for that subject.
Advanced Placement Website- The AP Program does not require you to take an AP course before taking an AP Exam. There are AP courses offered online. In 2007, 42,699 Pennsylvania students took 69,430 exams (you can take more than 1 in a year) 68.3% scored a 3 or better.
Second, high school students can participate in the Dual Enrollment programs at their school.
This program permits them to take college courses, at a greatly reduced cost, on the campus of several universities in the region or online. Depending on the level of participation at your school and the state grant awarded to the school district, a student may even attend tuition free. Parents may be expected to pick up the costs for transportation, books and fees. Dual at Selinsgrove Area High School
Dual Enrollment courses also count towards the high school graduation requirements. Students are still considered high school students. They can participate in their high school’s clubs, teams, events and graduation ceremony. Each school district sets its own guidelines for qualifying to participate in their Dual Enrollment program. Parents should contact their district’s high school for more information.
Finally, Bloomsburg University is offering an Advance College Experience Program.
It is a deeply discounted tuition program that is open to high school students in the summer. It could be more cost effective to go to college for the summer, than to work at a low wage job. Check out Bloomsburg University’s website http://www.bloomu.edu/admissions/ace.php or contact their Admissions office for more information. Per their web site "Students may be able to save up to 75 percent on tuition in Bloomsburg's Advance College Experience Program." It is my understanding that students who graduate in Spring 2008 are still eligible for the summer discount program.
Each college and university sets its own rules for the applying of AP credits and Dual Enrollment credits in their program. Use that information to make the optimal selection of AP classes and Dual Enrollment courses to take in high school.
In addition to saving money, course credits earned in high school can place the student in a higher class ranking at college. This is an advantage when selecting courses. It can also open the door to a double major or a minor degree.
Dual Enrollment courses and AP classes are both bargains. Parents should strongly encourage their teens to take them. There is a temptation to “coast” through the senior year of high school. The costs of full price credits must be weighed against the many advantages of the discounted credits that a student might earn with some extra effort in high school.
Published in Daily Item in March 2008. My Turn column