Supporting College Access, Affordability and Completion Through a Financial Aid Experiment for Students in Dual Enrollment Programs

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.


  1. Does the new Pell Grant initiative mean that “online” dual credit is acceptable? We live in a rural area and it would be almost impossible for our students to travel to the nearest junior college.

  2. I’m from Ohio, where our dual enrollment program is called COLLEGE CREDIT PLUS. It allows students in grades 7-12 to take college classes at absolutely no charge to them or their families. In this scenario, how is a Pell Grant necessary? I don’t understand the need to tap into these funds when the program is already free. Please advise.

  3. I love to see the initiative from the Department of Education to prepare students from low income areas to succeed in college. Simply providing students with access to higher education will not mean they will succeed. Preparing then providing for higher education will help motivated students break out of low income areas, eventually reducing the class gap.
    I myself participated in a dual enrollment program in high school. Not only did it allow me to take college level classes for a lower price, but it taught me the discipline needed to succeed in a college level course. As a junior in college, I am confident my GPA would not be as high as it is without participating in dual enrollment courses my junior and senior years of high school.

  4. Could you define dual enrollment? There are many avenues for high school students to earn college credit, and the term “dual enrollment” isn’t consistently defined across the country.

    • Hi Stacey,
      I attended a celebration of the Long Beach Promise Pathways where the Under Secretary was in attendance. I believe he affirms the definition subscribed to by NACEP.

  5. Yeahhhhhhhh, hurra!!!!!
    I just love the US dept of Education….

    What a brilliant group of people! I love it, I love it!

    Stuff like this makes me appreciate being in this country.

    Dept of Ed, keep up the good work! I can’t wait to tell all my students.

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