Dual enrollment program makes students eligible for financial aid

January 16, 2013

From kenoshanews.com: “Dual enrollment program makes students eligible for aid” — Gateway Technical College students now have the opportunity not only to kick start earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, they can reduce their total tuition cost while revving up their financial aid.

That’s been made possible by a new dual-enrollment plan Gateway and Parkside worked out late in the fall and which became effective Jan. 1.

Under the partnership, Gateway students now may choose to enroll in what’s called the “1-Plus-3 General Studies Certificate Program” and complete 30 credit hours of general education requirements, while simultaneously being admitted into Parkside.

While a 1-Plus-3 agreement has been in place for a number of years between the schools, until now it did not include dual enrollment, which officials said is significant — not only for the students, but for the institutions as well.

“One of the things that I’m excited about is this is sort of the next step in our relationship with Parkside,” John Thibodeau, Gateway assistant provost, said. “We were giving a (1-Plus-3) certificate before, but we were unable to provide students financial aid.”

He said for a Gateway student to earn financial aid previously, the Wisconsin Technical College System required students to be enrolled in degree-awarding program. The structure of the former 1-Plus-3 program wasn’t of sufficient duration for Gateway students to meet the requirement.

“Now, with dual enrollment, because they’re then admitted into Parkside and Gateway simultaneously, they’re able to get financial aid through Parkside because Parkside is able to admit them and offer them financial aid. At a 4-year college, when you’re admitted, you become eligible for financial aid upon admission. But, at a two-year tech college, you have to be in a specific degree or diploma program to become financial aid eligible,” Thibodeau said.

Added Thibodeau: “From the practical everyday point of view of students, that’s important because they want to know how they’re going to be able to pay for college.

Since the 1990s, the schools have honored what’s known as a “2-Plus-2” articulation, or transfer, agreement. It allows Gateway students to earn two years of transfer credits at Gateway before enrolling at Parkside to earn their remaining credits toward a bachelor degree, based on the remainder amounting to about two years matriculation at Parkside.

However, the new 1-Plus-1 program provides students greater flexibility in pursuing Parkside degrees, DeAnn Possehl, Parkside associate vice chancellor for enrollment management, explained.

“This is for general education requirements. The 2-plus-2 is program specific. So, it doesn’t apply to all the programs. That’s the substantial difference,” Possehl said

The schools began working on dual enrollment for 1-Plus-3 nine months ago when it came up during periodic conversations the campuses have about improving communication and transfer-related issues between them, as well as how they can smooth the experience for students, according to Possehl.

“This was just an outcome of that. We’re always looking for pathways to help our students succeed,” Possehl said. “From our point of view, I think the value is it provides an alternative, particularly for us, for a student who isn’t ready yet to start a four-year program maybe financially or academically or in just in their life.”

Another significant element of the agreement is the clarity it provides for students planning to continue toward earning a bachelor degree because the program spells out the proper general education requirements that will correctly transfer to Parkside, keeping students on track for timely graduation. “It addresses a number of issues and ensures they are on a very clear path with transferable courses. This is about students and really addressing their needs,” Possehl said.

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