State lawmakers roll out dual enrollment bills

Some legislators want to increase PSEO funding.

Benjamin Farniok

State lawmakers have recently discussed how to enroll more high school students in college courses.

Several bills introduced this session would boost post-secondary enrollment options and provide more funding for concurrent enrollment. Some legislators say more funding for these PSEO programs would increase academic success while helping close the achievement gap.

“If students have taken college classes, they are more likely to graduate from college and they are more likely to graduate on time,” said Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-Fridley, who last month authored a bill related to concurrent enrollment in both high school and college classes.

The University of Minnesota enrolls about 600 high school juniors and seniors in its PSEO program on the Twin Cities campus each year.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, recently co-authored a bill that would increase the amount of money available for concurrent enrollment programs, increasing state funding from $2 million to $9 million.

The state currently gives high schools about $30 for each course a student enrolls in, if it’s from an approved concurrent enrollment program.

Some state lawmakers want to raise that amount to $150 for each course a student takes. The funding would go toward paying fees associated with the program.

Julie Williams, director of the Twin Cities campus’ College in the Schools, said she supports Nelson’s bill, adding that increased funding for concurrent enrollment programs would make college more affordable and accessible for students.

According to a report from the College of Continuing Education, students who participate in concurrent enrollment are 4 percent more likely to graduate high school, 8 percent more likely to enroll in a four-year university and 5 percent more likely to continue into a second year of post-secondary education.

“Any of those courses where you’ve got high school kids taking dual credits, the success rate of those kids is significantly higher,” Nelson said.

Bernardy also said she supports increased state funding for more concurrent enrollment. Allowing high school students to take college courses will prepare them for college and serve as a better predictor of academic success, she said.

Nelson also authored another bill that would grant students full credits for their participation in PSEO programs. However, her bill only applies to schools within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Nelson said she would like to include the University in similar requirements but that would have to wait for a different piece of legislation.