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. Furthermore, students graduating from high school are not always sufficiently prepared for success in postsecondary education. They may not have had access to rigorous coursework that prepares them for college, or to the support structures that allow them to thrive in a college environment.
One model that is expanding opportunities for students to access and succeed in postsecondary education is dual enrollment, in which high school students enroll in academic programs offered by postsecondary institutions. Students who have attended a dual enrollment program are more likely to apply to, enroll in, and succeed at college. These students not only benefit from the academic experience of learning at a college level, but also often are more able to picture themselves in college, pursuing a postsecondary degree.
Today, we are announcing an experiment focused on dual enrollment. The experiment will enable high school students enrolled in dual enrollment programs that are offered by participating institutions to access federal Pell Grants. We hope that this experiment will help us understand the impact of Pell Grants on opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds to participate and succeed in dual enrollment programs. We also hope that the students we reach will be able to earn enough college credit to help them complete college more quickly, and with less debt. To help students succeed in these programs, we are seeking institutions offering structured programs that support students throughout the program.
This experiment builds on the Administration’s efforts to make college more affordable while strengthening community colleges—the institutions that offer the majority of dual enrollment programs. It also expands the Administration’s work to increase access for low-income students through the help of Pell Grants.
In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a notice in the Federal Register inviting postsecondary institutions that partner with secondary schools and LEAs to offer dual enrollment programs to submit letters of interest to participate in this experiment. We hope that this program will help make college more accessible and affordable for many students, and will better prepare students for college.
Ted Mitchell is U.S. Under Secretary of Education.