U.S. Senator Gary Peters payed a visit to the Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University campus on February 22 to announce the Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA). The MEAA is a new bipartisan legislation intended to expand options for high school students to obtain college credit, making higher education more affordable and accessible while improving high school and college graduation rates.
“The escalating cost of higher education should not deter hardworking, motivated students from obtaining a quality higher education,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill to help reduce the price tag for higher learning by allowing students to complete college-level courses while they are still in high school. Students will save time and money as they kick-start their careers through a personalized curriculum.”
The MEAA would expand access to dual and concurrent enrollment programs and early/middle college programs by providing grants to institutions of higher education. The National Alliance on Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships estimates 1.9 million high school students enrolled in a college course during the 2014-2015 school year.
Peters was joined by Ferris State University President David Eisler, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael Shibler, and students enrolled in Rockford High School’s concurrent enrollment program with Ferris State University.
Currently, Ferris State has partnered with 20 schools across Michigan to give high school students a jump on their college requirements.
“We can help make college more affordable and more accessible by offering expanded opportunities for students to earn college credit while in high school in a cost-effective manner,” said Ferris State University President David Eisler. “I thank Senator Peters for his efforts to support dual and concurrent enrollment and early college programs that will give students in Michigan more opportunities to start their college careers.”
Concurrent enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to take college-credit bearing courses taught by college-approved high school teacher, while dual enrollment involves students being enrolled in two separate institutions. These high schools and programs are located on college campuses or within schools, and they allow students to begin working towards an associate’s degree while they complete coursework for a high school diploma. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, early college students on average earn 36 college credits, and 30% of early college students earn an associate’s degree. There are 23 early/middle college high schools and 67 early/middle college programs in Michigan alone.
“Earning college credit in high school prior to graduation is a life changing experience for our students,” said Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael Shibler. “The opportunity to experience the rigor of college coursework, as well as prepare students to make more informed decisions about their postsecondary path, is invaluable.”
The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act allows for money to be used to provide grants to institutions of higher education. These grants can be used to:
• Carry out dual and concurrent enrollment programs as well as early/middle college programming
• Provide teachers in concurrent enrollment programs with professional development
• Support activities such as course design, course approval processes, community outreach, student counseling and support services
Senator Peters introduced the legislation alongside Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, and New York Congressmen Tom Reed.
“This legislation will help motivated students customize their coursework to create the learning environment that works best for them,” said Steven Ender, President of Grand Rapids Community College. “By introducing students to the academic expectations of college while still in high school, we can dramatically improve college preparedness and significantly boost graduation rates.”