Lakeshore Technical College: Dual enrollment reduces college debt | Paul Carlsen

By: Dr. Paul Carlsen, For USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin --

College affordability has never received as much attention as it is receiving right now, and rightfully so.

Currently, there is more than $1,600,000,000,000 in outstanding student loan debt. While the majority of this debt is the result of for-profit colleges maximizing shareholder profits at the expense of student credit scores, Lakeshore Technical College is providing more cost-effective alternatives to heavy college debt than ever before.

One of the ways we do this is through dual enrollment. Dual enrollment is a partnership between Lakeshore Technical College and our local high schools to provide college-level courses in the high schools at no cost to students and their families.

Sometimes LTC instructors teach these courses, and other times they are taught by high school teachers who hold the educational credentials required by LTC’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission.

These dual enrollment courses represent significant cost savings and help students get a head start on their college education.

Last school year, LTC collaborated with every single public high school in the Lakeshore community to provide dual enrollment courses to 940 high school students who earned a total of 3,075 college credits. This saved students and their families a total of $412,665.

With our new College Here and Now partnership with the Sheboygan Area School District and the Kiel Area School District, as well as a growing partnership with the Random Lake School District, we anticipate a surge in dual enrollment opportunities in the coming years.

In addition to the cost savings realized by dual enrollment, the research is clear that high school students who earn college credits while in high school are more likely to enroll in and graduate from college. This is a win-win, since we need more college graduates in rural America to close the attainment gap with urban Americans.

LTC Board of Trustee representatives and I were recently in Washington, D.C., and we shared LTC’s dual enrollment success with U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah. We encouraged him to continue to support dual enrollment efforts and help us identify ways rural America can continue to offer meaningful dual enrollment opportunities.

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