College-Based Dual Enrollment (DE)

Regionally Accredited (RA) Graded Credit has the highest level of transferability and acceptance. These credits result in a letter grade on a college transcript. Credit options in this section are solidly transferable into colleges that accept transfer credit.

What is Dual Enrollment?

Dual enrollment is not a universally defined.  I use the term “dual enrollment” as a generic catch-all term to mean a college course taken by a student for both college and high school credit. In the case of homeschooling, the parent awards the high school credit while the college awards the college credit. Students enrolled in private schools, public schools, and umbrella schools will not have the same autonomy as a high school family, and should consult their school officials for guidance.

Examples of dual program names:

  • Dual Enrollment
  • Career and College Promise
  • Middle College
  • Early College
  • Postsecondary Enrollment Option (PSEO)
  • Concurrent Enrollment
  • Dual Credit
  • Joint High School
  • Articulated High School

How does Dual Enrollment Work?

The student attends class, online or in person, along with the regular college students. Dual enrollment students complete the same requirements as “regular” college students, including receiving grades and a college transcript.

Registration for homeschool students is done directly with the college. Since there are no restrictions placed on where you register, parents can select a college(s) based on their budget, interests, religion, or learning preferences. With nearly 3,800 colleges in the United States, most allowing participation, this opens up a fantastic opportunity for homeschooled teens.

caution:   dual enrollment courses won’t be censored for your teen.  Maturity should always be considered.

As a homeschool family, your teen’s access to dual enrollment is often better than if they were in public school. In many states, the public school’s guidance counselor chooses which students and which courses are offered, and generally, only the top scoring students are eligible. As the homeschool administrator, you can choose whether or not your teen participates, and if they aren’t eligible to participate locally, you can choose to use a different college outside your state. If you want to learn it, it’s out there to learn!

Learn Now Transfer Later

Though this isn’t the case in all 50 states, nearly every state has determined that college courses taken for dual enrollment at a public community college are guaranteed to transfer into that state’s public university system. Not having that guarantee doesn’t mean that it won’t transfer, but having the guarantee is an added peace of mind! Even in these guaranteed transfer states, a private university often marches to their own drum and can reject the transfer of credit with otherwise excellent transferability.

What’s it Cost?

That depends. Some of you will live in states with free dual enrollment tuition, others will have access to reduced tuition, and some will pay full price. No matter what YOUR STATE OFFERS, you can always shop around! For instance, there are out of state opportunities as low as $25 per credit, so if your state’s best price for reduced dual enrollment tuition is $100 per credit, you may want to look elsewhere.

DE Costs for Homeschoolers by State

During high school you have unlimited access to reduced or free tuition in any amount, but after high school you will absolutely with certainty pay full price.

The following states offer free dual enrollment options to homeschooled students at the time of this writing:

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Secular or Religious?

Both! While your state may have limitations for what they pay for you can always choose the better fit for your family and you always have the final say on where your teens take college classes. For parents who want religious dual enrollment courses,  I keep a list of religious colleges with proper accreditation and open to homeschooling students living any state (Ways to Earn College Credit).

What to Watch Out For

The down-side to dual enrollment is simple, if your child bombs the class, the grade is on their permanent record at the college. Colleges require you to disclose all previously earned credit under penalty, so that “D” may count against future college applications, but for sure counts in their college GPA. For that reason, do not rush your child into a course before they’re ready, and consider taking only 1 course at first. Adjusting to a college schedule is difficult for most people of any age.

Lastly, in my college classroom where I was the instructor, more than 90% of the “F” grades I’d  given out were simply a result of failing to withdrawal. Meaning, the student didn’t fail for “academic” reasons, they simply didn’t withdrawal properly.  In other words, never allow your teen to stop attending class—even if it’s an “online” class. If your teen is not going to pass their class, for any reason, withdrawal from the course immediately using the formal withdrawal procedure. You may or may not get any of your tuition back, but you are protecting your GPA, which is more important. Always withdrawal your child instead of allowing a failing grade for the course.

For the motivated student, it’s possible to earn an entire certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree along with his high school diploma. And yes, if your teen earns a degree IN HIGH SCHOOL they will still apply to college and for financial aid as a first time incoming freshman.

To Keep in Mind for Out-of-State DE

  • dual enrollment out of state is always a self-pay situation
  • dual enrollment out of state will occur as a distance learning student
  • transfer arrangements are rare
  • choosing general education courses significantly improves chances of successful credit transfer
  • you do not have to earn a degree at the college you use for DE

A parent from our North Carolina Facebook group writes: 

“The admissions rep from NCSU pointed out that if a student completes two years at a community college and transfers into ANY North Carolina public college, then the savings is the equivalent of them winning a huge scholarship. I hadn’t thought of it like that. He said the savings is between $28,000 and $32,000. That’s pretty awesome!”