LANSING – Four bills sponsored by Sen. Judy Emmons to expand opportunities for high school freshmen and sophomores and non-public students to take public community college and university courses were signed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder.
"A college or technical education is becoming increasingly important for success in today's economy," said Emmons, R-Sheridan. "This is about increasing access to a college education. Certain high school students in Michigan were already allowed to take college courses that counted toward their high school diploma and toward a college degree. With today's action, we open this opportunity to more of our children."
Mid Michigan Community College President Carol Churchill said, "We find that dual enrollment is very important in setting college expectations among students who are still in high school. It allows students to see that they can be in college and they can be successful. We also think it is important to have a seamless transfer between high school and college, giving students every opportunity to learn in a way they find challenging."
Senate Bill 622, now Public Act 131 of 2012, makes it easier for non-public school students to dual enroll in college courses and expands the age limit for eligibility to dual enroll. PA 132 makes the same reforms for students wishing to take career and technical college courses.
"I led this reform to achieve fairness for all Michigan students," Emmons said. "Children attending a non-public school should not be denied the opportunity to dual enroll in college courses simply because of how their parents choose to educate them."
PAs 133-134 enable the state treasurer to pay the postsecondary educational or career and technical preparation institution for the courses in which non-public school students dually enroll. The treasurer would pay the amount billed by the institution or a pro-rated amount equal to the average statewide per-pupil allowance, whichever is less. The funds would come from the Michigan Department of Treasury, and not from the local school district.
"This initiative allows high school students easier access to college-level programs and will hopefully increase the number of citizens with higher education credentials," said Robert Ferrentino, Montcalm Community College president. "I have been watching the progress of these bills, and I'm pleased that the reforms are now a reality. I believe the benefits are going to be great for students."
Students would be limited to a maximum of 10 courses, with additional limits on the number of courses per year that are dependent upon when the student begins dual enrollment. The limits apply unless there is a written agreement between the school district and the applicable postsecondary institution allowing for more courses.