In 1985, Minnesota became the first U.S. state to allow and provide funding for high school juniors and seniors to take college-level courses. Thirty years later, the program has evolved and grown, and it may expand once again this year under a plan to improve affordability and accessibility to “concurrent enrollment”: students taking college-level courses at their own high schools.
This opportunity to earn college credits without leaving a high school campus has clearly caught on: Since 2009, participation in concurrent enrollment has grown by 24 percent.
But Minnesota Sen. Greg Clausen, a principal for 15 years in the Twin Cities area, says the state’s current level of support for the program — $2 million in net aid per year — isn’t enough to address student demand for these courses.
“It’s an underfunded program right now,” says Clausen, who has proposed an increase in state funding, to $9 million a year, under legislation introduced this year (SF 995)
. “We allocated [up to] $150 per student registration, and right now, that does not cover the cost. So we have our secondary schools paying out of their general fund.”
Additional state dollars would be used to reimburse school districts, expand the number of courses offered by postsecondary institutions, and pay for teacher and staff development. The bill would also make ninth- and 10th-graders eligible for concurrent enrollment, at the discretion of their districts.