Leading states help public colleges expand dual enrollment; Massachusetts colleges have limited funds and new disincentives

Providing high school students with early college experiences is increasingly looked upon as an effective approach for creating stronger college and career pathways, a central focal point in the Gateway Cities Vision. Most early college designs rely on dual enrollment, which allows students to take college-level courses and earn credit toward both high school and post-secondary degrees. In many states, dual enrollments are rising as efforts are made to help better prepare disadvantaged students for college (and middle class families look to reduce the cost of higher education). Massachusetts can learn from other states that have worked creatively to give more students quality dual enrollment experiences.

Jobs for the Future has highlighted Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah as states with exemplar dual enrollment programs. Funding mechanisms in these states give schools districts and public colleges strong incentives to create dual enrollment partnerships. Often the incentive is simply double funding based on student enrollment at the secondary school and post-secondary school.

To help ensure that state investment in dual enrollment translates into a high quality experience for students, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Tennessee are making dual enrollment performance a factor in overall funding. Public colleges are rewarded for expanding dual-enrollment programs and providing metrics relating to dual enrollment. For example, Tennessee’s outcome-based higher education funding formula places 5 percent of the weight for final funding on measures relating to dual enrollment. In New Mexico, colleges get “30 credit momentum points” for dual enrollment. After moving to performance-based measures, the completion of credit-hours by students in dual enrollment programs increased by 46 percent in Louisiana.

Massachusetts has moved aggressively toward performance based funding as a strategy to improve completion rates for student’s attending community college. Unfortunately, the new performance measures do not credit institutions for dual enrollment performance, which create a strong disincentive to expand dual enrollment. With just $750,000 to fund state grants to community colleges for dual enrollment programs, the incentive institutions have to offer these programs is already very limited.

– Megan Aki





Additional Programs


School districts are required to pay tuition; however, the college may charge additional tuition to the student. The student has the opportunity to apply for a stipend from Colorado’s College Opportunity Fund (COF) to assist with tuition coverage.

Double-funding both average daily attendance funds to the school and full-time equivalent funds for the college for the dual enrolled student.

Accelerating Students Through Concurrent Enrollment (ASCENT) which allows students to stay in school a fifth year and take only college courses. $4.3 million dollars were provided by the state in 2012 for this program.


Students are exempt from tuition and fees.

State funding for high schools and colleges are shares of an appropriation based on the hours of college coursework completed by students. In FY2013 the share came to $8,531,200 for the Concurrent Enrollment line item.



Tuition is paid by the state. Secondary school pays for textbooks and course supplies. The student is responsible for course fees.

Post-secondary institutions are reimbursed through full-time equivalent funds and secondary schools are reimbursed for book costs by the state.



Higher education institutions may partially or fully waive tuition and fees for dual enrollment students, however it is not required.

Double-funding (provided by the state) for both full-time equivalent funds for post-secondary school and average daily attendance funds for the secondary school.

Texas is currently developing an outcomes-based model for funding. 10% will be based on outcomes and 90% will be based on enrollment.


Students attending a public college or university are exempt from registration, tuition, and lab fees.

Double-funding both full-time equivalent funds for school district and college for the dual enrollment student.

“early admission” program which allows students to enroll full time in college or career courses after completing six semesters of secondary enrollment.


State voucher program covers the tuition for one college course during a student’s junior year and senior year.

Not defined.




Two programs exist: TOPS Tech and Early Start. State covers cost of tuition for TOPS Tech and Early Start program covers cost of tuition for students who qualify.

Performance based funding covers 25% of institutional operating budgets for postsecondary education. The points regarding dual enrollment are obtained simply by reporting on related statistics, not on expanding the program.



University or college may waive, but state does not require it.

State pays both ADA and FTE, with additional funds allocated for universities/colleges based on performance of dual enrollment programs.

Double up for College” program, students on free lunch or reduced lunch can qualify for a tuition and fee waiver for Indiana’s public colleges and universities.


Dual Enrollment Grants are funded by proceeds from the state lottery. Students can received up to $300 per semester.

Solely outcomes-based model for funding (differs for community colleges and four-year institutions). Funding is weighted relating to importance within the school’s mission and outcomes relating to underserved students (low-income, older, etc).




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