Dual enrollment is so popular in Florida that it’s breaking community college budgets, reports the Orlando Sentinel. “Dual” students enrolled in both high school and community college pay no tuition. Statewide that’s costing community colleges $50 million a year and climbing. Some colleges are limiting slots for “dual” students.
“Basically we’re eating out of our hides so to speak,” said Dick Scott, vice president for business affairs at Lake-Sumter Community College.
It cost the school about $1.27 million in tuition and fees to enroll slightly more than 1,000 high-school students. Dual-enrollment students make up about 13 percent of the entire campus, the highest percentage in the state, and is to the point where the students are crowding out non-high-school students, school officials said. Scott said with state support dwindling and tuition becoming a larger slice of the funding pie for colleges, something has to give.
“We’ve reached the limits where we can’t do it anymore for free,” he said.
Since 2009, Florida high schools can earn a higher grade by getting more students into advanced classes. That’s sent the number of dual-enrollment students in both career and academic programs up from 35,466 to more than 50,000 last school year.
Some school districts pay for dual-enrolled high-school students’ textbooks, but the amount doesn’t come close to what colleges spend. Orange County Public Schools, for instance, paid about $400,000 for its dual-enrollment students, while Valencia College, which serves dual-enrolled students in Orange and Osceola counties, lost about $4 million in tuition for dual-enrolled students. The school is already having to cut 800 classes, reduce staff and forego employee raises to make ends meet next school year.
About half of community college funding comes from the state in Florida. The rest comes from tuition.