Governor Culver is asking lawmakers to spend $3.5 million to help more Iowa teens take community college classes while they’re still in high school. Culver calls it "senior-year plus" and the governor says it will help students who’ve taken all the courses they can in high school and are ready for advanced coursework.
"We havent’ reinvented the wheel here," Culver says. "We’ve looked at what’s worked in other parts of the country and that’s what we will present to the legislature today." Culver says it’s a financial savings for students and their parents, too, if a teenager is able to accumulate college-level credit.
"So you’re a junior in high school, a senior in high school, you’re already working on your associates degree. You’re already working toward your four-year degree," Culver says. "It gets you on a pathway to success in the future and I think as a result of that, you’re going to be more focused and you’re going to be more excited about coming to school and taking these classes and you’ll believe that you can accomplish your dreams."
Culver envisions using that $3.5 million to set up a coordinated plan for high schools and community colleges as well as the private and public universities in Iowa so all college credits earned by a student while they’re in high school will count towards a degree from any college or university in the state. "We’re trying to level the playing field and give every Iowa student, regardless of where they live or what district they go to school, to have the chance to earn up to two years of college credit before they graduate from high school," Culver says.
In addition, Culver says he’d support having the state pay the fee for students who take advanced placement tests and pass. Culver is visiting community colleges in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Burlington today to talk about the program. Lindsay Cannaday, a 17-year-old who is a senior at Des Moines Roosevelt High School, was among those who talked with the governor. "I think that they should expand the knowledge of these programs and let students know from the jump, like middle school and the beginning of high school, that there are these programs available that they can take and go beyond high school while they’re in high school," Cannaday says.
A recent study of already-existing "dual-enrollment" programs found 24,000 Iowa high school students took community college classes in 2005, saving themselves and their parents $31 million in college tuition costs.