Lorain County Community College has knowledge to share with other Ohio schools on how to reduce the financial burden placed on them by the College Credit Plus program while simultaneously providing families the opportunity to save a considerable amount of money for college.
College Credit Plus (CCP) is a statewide program that allows high school and middle school students who have excelled academically to earn college credits for free. Although it provides an opportunity for students as a way of saving money, the cost for tuition and textbooks has been shifted onto the school districts. The state education department funds the program by deducting the funds that are normally spent on school district’s high school and middle school education.
For some school districts, the cost has become overwhelming. According to the Chronicle-Telegram, the cost of the program for the South-Western City School District was $250,000 in the 2015-16 school year. The Hilliard district saw a $185,000 total cost in the same year. School groups are now criticizing the program as being too costly and advocating for changes such as having the parents bear some of the cost.
LCCC has successfully managed the cost of the program without resorting to such measures. Since 1995, LCCC has searched for high school teachers who are qualified to teach at the college level. “We have been able to find some affordable efficiencies when we can hire a high school teacher who also meets the qualifications to teach a particular subject here in the college to deliver the course,”said Cynthia Kushner, Director of Marketing and Outreach Initiatives. “That really helps bring down the cost.”
In addition to cutting costs from the program, having qualified teachers in high schools brings other benefits. Providing the classes to students in their high school removes the need of transportation to attend the college classes. Also, the qualified teachers are able to easily contact their students’ other teachers. “They’re able to do alignments and adjustments in the curriculum so students are more prepared and more successful,” said Kushner.
Textbook affordability and materials for class is an area that is currently being examined to further help bring down the cost. Moreover, it will also benefit all LCCC students; not just the ones who are involved in the program.
At present, there are 2,757 students enrolled here at LCCC who are participating in the program; nearly 20 percent of LCCC’s total enrollment for the fall semester. Compared to the previous school year, the number of students in the program rose 16 percent.
At an annual meeting with the local superintendents held in April 2016, LCCC President Dr. Marcia Ballinger shared a presentation detailing the result of financial savings provided by the program. About 3,000 students in the CCP program and Early College High School (a similar but separate local program) earned 28,232 college credits; a price tag of roughly $4.46 million at community college rates. As a result, this brought around $14.5 million in savings for students when compared to an average Ohio public university. The two programs dually provided 283 college courses in 27 area schools.
“By working together, providing opportunities in the high school as well as online, on campus, and at learning centers, we were able to save families a significant amount of college costs. We are all working together so our students in Lorain County can better manage their college investment and debt,” said Kushner.