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Dual-Enrollment Classes a Success, But Expensive

Governor Steve Bullock was at Hellgate High School in Missoula Tuesday to meet with teachers, students and administrators and learn more about what can be done in Helena to help students get the upper hand in their college education.

"I didn't really want to take math in college and I feel like if I take this FST course and I pass and I get the college credit, I don't need to take any math in college.," said senior Ian Frank. "And that sounds great to me!"

Students can gain college credit in the dual-enrollment program through the Missoula College that offers discounted classes taught by certified teachers in their regular high school classrooms.

But Tuesday the message was clear: the dual-enrollment program is a great opportunity for high school students but is out of reach for many families who can't afford to pay $50 per credit.

"Fifty dollars a credit may not sound like a lot of money, but it is a lot of money to families and high school kids," said MCPS Superintendent Alex Apostle.

"So if we make it easy, like the Running Start program, we're going to see our numbers jump tremendously."

"I live in a low-income family and even though $50 a credit is a great deal, I still can't afford it and it's not a possibility for me," said Senior Daylen Turk.

More than 300 Missoula high school students take dual enrollment classes in mostly math and english and administrators say the key to expanding it is to make it more affordable.

"It's not adding additional resources, it's not adding additional classes on the school side," said MCPS Administrator Mark Thane. "It is a burden on the families and the students, and one of the areas we need to research is scholarship opportunities to pay for credit fees so nobody is locked out of the program."

It's this idea of scholarships that Bullock says he will bring back to Helena.

"By the same token, $50 a credit is a heck of a lot in high school. So we need to address those and look at what some of the other states are doing and really make it so the availability is for every student," Bullock said.

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