Thanks to our legislators, Utah high school students can take college-level courses for $5 per credit hour. Concurrent enrollment courses allow students to earn college and high school credits in aligned courses taken on high school campuses. Courses are taught by high school teachers who meet state and university qualifications.

An average CE class costs $15 and is worth three college credits; the same class would cost close to $900 if taken at Utah Valley University or another Utah university. In the 2022-23 school year, concurrent enrollment students in Alpine School District collectively saved $17,281,906 in tuition and fees.

Currently, 7,139 Alpine School District students are enrolled at UVU, taking classes in foreign languages, digital media, math and science. These students receive official college transcripts accepted at all higher education institutions. Those who pass CE math, science and language arts courses — they must complete one in each subject area — can also qualify for Utah Opportunity Scholarships that are based on annual legislative funding. The amounts can vary from year to year, but historically, qualifying students have received $1,000 per college semester for four semesters.

With proper planning, high school students can complete their first semesters of college and earn general education certificates or associate degrees in general studies by the time they graduate from high school. Last spring, 241 Utah County high school students simultaneously earned their high school diplomas and associate degrees from UVU.

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UVU’s accredited concurrent enrollment program is one of Utah’s largest, with over 16,000 students, 60 high school partnerships and 600 high school instructors. CE academic advisors work with students and parents to create academic plans based on student goals and coordinate with high school counselors and administrators regarding high school CE course offerings.

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While taking Advanced Placement courses is another way to earn college credit in high school, concurrent enrollment offers two advantages: a CE class is less expensive than the AP test, and CE grades are based on a student’s semester of work and exams, as opposed to a one-time AP test.

Concurrent enrollment has proven to be an effective pathway that encourages first-generation students to pursue higher education. It has also been instrumental in motivating academically at-risk students to pursue post-secondary education. Students who take CE classes in high school are familiar with course registration and can keep up with the rigor of college courses, ensuring smoother first-year college experiences.

We appreciate the hundreds of Utah high school teachers who have stepped up to teach CE classes. We also thank our state leaders for their commitment to funding this great program. As a state, we have come to appreciate the value of post-secondary education, and concurrent enrollment is making that opportunity available to rising generations.

Shane Farnsworth is the superintendent of Alpine School District. Astrid S. Tuminez is the president of Utah Valley University.

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