Posted in College Admission, College Majors, Community college, Dual Enrollment

$2000 Bachelor’s Degrees in NC

“My son is taking all his classes for 12th grade at the community college, he will be graduating in May with both his high school diploma from our homeschool and associates degree from our local community college” 

-Jayne L., North Carolina homeschooling parent.

The topic of today’s post is targeted toward our North Carolina families, but the takeaway isn’t that you should relocate to North Carolina, it’s that in almost every state there are strategies you can build around the resources you have available to you.  I know many non-NC adults who “hacked” their education and earned AA or BA degrees for pennies on the dollar (I’m on that list!)  For the motivated, there are a lot of ways to save money, but this post is my deconstruction and then reconstruction of the resources in NC, assembled in a way that maxes out the benefits available to parents.

I like to point out that I volunteer at our county’s library as a college planning expert.  Several times per year I give homeschooling for college credit presentations, championing the educational benefits available to those in North Carolina .  10 times out of 10, a parent will tell me they had no idea these resources were available to their teen, and that their teen could complete a degree this way instead of earning an academic scholarship, or taking on a lot of student loan debt.  Nevermind the opportunity to oversee the process while their teen is still living at home instead of sending them away to college and hoping their college advisors are good stewards of your teen’s time and money.

In short, make it your mission to find the programs in your state, and build a ladder that takes advantage of each and every one- then share that ladder with others.  The more brainpower we have working the problem, the greater we all benefit!

College costs:  Tuition, books, fees, meals, housing, and transportation.  No matter what your teen is doing, they have to live somewhere and eat something.  Sure, they can do that on campus and in a cafeteria, but my advice is that they live and eat at home.  I also like to rent textbooks or buy used editions whenver possible.

You have to plan ahead

Starting in high school, the homeschool parent has the option of bringing college credit into their high school -but since each parent acts as their teen’s guidance counselor, sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know.  Parents are great at high school planning, but may not understand dual enrollment planning.  In high school, the Career and College Promise advisor can help you with dual enrollment, but they aren’t great at helping with degree planning.  In community college, the advisors can help you with your AA/AS degree, but they aren’t great at helping you plan your BA/BS.  At a 4 year university, the advisors can help you earn your BA/BS, but they can’t go back in time to correct the inefficiencies from 1-2-3-4 years earlier.

There is no ONE PERSON IN THE SYSTEM that can advise for your teen from 10th grade through college graduation.  You have to take on the role of guidance counselor – Each employee has their niche, but the only common thread is YOU!  No one cares about the efficiency or cost or time or completion of your teen’s college degree more than you.  There are a lot of moving parts in the process.  BUT,  with a bit of planning and adjusting as your teen advances, they’ll get out the other end with a degree.

High School (Grades 9 & 10)

So, first things first, grades 9 & 10 must be academically robust enough that your teen can test into College Algebra and into College Composition.  In North Carolina, our high school students all have access to a state-wide dual enrollment program called Career & College Promise.  Each of the 58 community colleges has programs (called Pathways) available to your teen, some starting in 9th grade, but most start in 11th grade.  To complete the $2000 Bachelor’s degree, your teen needs to start taking courses in their AA Transfer Pathway or AS Transfer Pathway in fall (August) of 11th grade.

What age?  In NC, dual enrollment isn’t based on age, it’s based on grade.  The homeschool parent gets to decide when their teen is ready for 11th grade.

For teens headed to a 4-year college, taking advantage of the AA Transfer Pathway or the AS Transfer Pathway is a tuition-free way to earn unlimited college credit in high school. (you read that correctly- unlimited)  This is the key component of the $2000 Bachelor’s Degree.  In NC, students choosing one of the Transfer Pathways must meet placement test benchmarks.  If your teen doesn’t meet the benchmark, they can still take college classes, but they won’t be able to follow the plan in this post.  Your teen must take the Accuplacer exam in the middle or end of 10th grade.  If they don’t earn a high enough score, they can retest, but they can’t start until they hit the benchmark. Unlike an SAT or ACT, you can take an Accuplacer anytime you want and as many times as you want- the first time is free.  Simply call your closest NC Community College and schedule it with the testing center.

(Note:  if your teen has already taken the PSAT, SAT, Pre-ACT, ACT, Compass, Asset, PLAN, or NCDAP, your teen’s score may already be high enough to meet this benchmark- ask your local community college’s Career & College Promise coordinator for more help.) 


High School (Grades 11 & 12)

Grade 11 (FALL) is when your teen must begin their pathway courses.  Your teen will have access to 3 semesters as an 11th grader (fall, spring, summer) and 3 more as a 12th grader (fall, spring, summer).  A pathway consists of about 30 credits and will fit inside of their associate degree, which will fit inside a bachelor’s degree.  Use this for visual reference:

AA Transfer Pathway (30) –> AA Degree (60) –> BA Degree (120)


AS Transfer Pathway (30) –> AS Degree (60) –> BS Degree (120)

No matter which community college you use for Career and College Promise classes, the pathway requirements are set at the state level, so “where” they take their classes doesn’t change the process.  Note that your teen is allowed to take pathway classes at any college, it doesn’t have to be your closest campus.  And, the entire AA and AS pathway can be completed online as a distance learning student – so they don’t need to go to campus to take their courses!

“We used two different community colleges and almost a third. One had stronger English and math instructors while the other’s strong suit was history and sociology. The third – CPCC – has a phenomenal online program.”

-Yvonne, Homeschooling for College Credit North Carolina Facebook Moderator

An important point when planning your teen’s courses, it is possible to complete the full AA or AS degree in high school, however, your teen can’t take courses “off-pathway” until they’ve done the entire pathway.  That means, no matter how much your teen wants to take a second psychology course, they won’t have access to the college catalog until every course on the Transfer Pathway has been “checked off.”  The goal is to get off-pathway as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Pathway courses can be completed using community college courses, AP exams for college credit, or CLEP exams for college credit.  Not all NC community colleges apply exam credit the same way- shop around!

If you’re aiming for the most efficient schedule, your teen should enroll accordingly:

  • FALL 11th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 pathway classes)
  • SPRING 11th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 pathway classes)
  • SUMMER between 11th/12th GRADE: 3-6 credits (1-2 pathway/degree classes)
  • FALL 12th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 degree classes)
  • SPRING 12th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 degree classes)

Parents often consider ways to use CLEP or AP exams to either lighten a teen’s course load or accelerate the pathway/degree process.  Keep in mind that CLEP and AP exams cost just under $100 each, so there is an added cost to using these, however, the benefit may be worth it to your family in other ways.  When CLEP and AP credit is earned inside an AA or AS degree that will be used at an NC public university, the exam credit is locked into the transfer agreement and won’t be thrown out – even if the NC public university doesn’t normally award CLEP / AP credit.

“My son took and passed 7 CLEPs during 9th & 10th grade. The AA pathway consists of 11 courses the student must complete before moving on to other classes, his CLEPs knocked out 6 of those classes.  I HIGHLY recommend keeping a spreadsheet to track what your child’s CLEP exams will come in as and what classes they have to complete on the pathway so that you can plan each semester accordingly.”

-NC Homeschooling Parent

If you think 4-5 courses per semester may be too much for your teen, consider enrolling them in the “short” versions of each course.  Most courses come in 2 schedule options, 8 weeks or 16 weeks.  By using 8-week options, you can “stack” 2 courses into a single time slot.


  • ENG111 (weeks 1-8)  3 credits
  • ENG 112 (weeks 9-16) 3 credits
  • SOC210 (weeks 1-8) 3 credits
  • PSY150 (weeks 9-16) 3 credits
  • MAT161 (weeks 1-16) 3 credits

Observe that this student is taking 15 credits, but at any given time will only be taking 3 classes at a time (English 1, Sociology, and College Algebra) for 8 weeks, and then (English 2, Psychology, and College Algebra) for 8 weeks.

 What’s on the AA or AS Pathway?


Off Pathway- On Degree

At some point in the 11th or 12th grade school year, your teen will be eligible to go “off-pathway” and start checking boxes toward their associate’s degree.  It’s important for me to emphasize that even if your teen can’t finish their entire associate’s degree in high school, that they keep plugging away and finish their degree before matriculating into their target university.  In order to get that “transfer guarantee” offered by our state, your teen must complete the full degree.  Even just one credit short means that their target university will evaluate each and every class, AP, and CLEP exam- which could mean credit being lost in the transfer.  You don’t want that! This whole plan is based on the protected right we have to get a full and perfect transfer.

While working a degree plan, the community college advising team should be included in course selection and guidance with your teen.  You’ll want to be sure that each course brings your teen one step closer to their degree, and that there are no missteps.  Double check that your teen is following the correct degree plan:  AA or AS TRANSFER DEGREE.  Degrees with other titles (Associate of Applied Science, Associate Degree in Nursing, etc.) can transfer too, but the planning is not as cut and dry as AA/AS, and the nuances of planning go beyond the scope of today’s post.  If your teen is pursuing anything other than an AA or AS, they need to check in with their college advisor each and every semester before choosing classes.

 High School and College Graduation

If you worked the plan, your teen will be ready for their high school diploma (issued by you) and will walk across their community college stage to receive their associate’s degree.  Double win!

Having completed the AA/AS degree, your teen will apply to our public universities as a transfer student.  If your teen doesn’t finish the degree and only has accumulated college credit, your teen must apply as a freshman.  Transfer students in North Carolina who hold a full AA/AS degree don’t have to take the SAT exam or meet the “high school entrance” course requirements.

The entire process of exiting a community college with an AA/AS degree and transferring into a public university is HEAVILY REGULATED and standardized by our state.  It’s called our Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, and the contents are public information.  This is a huge advantage because you can learn everything there is to know about the process- just like an academic advisor.  In fact, traditional high school guidance counselors do not advise students on coordinating high school and college graduation simultaneously – it’s beyond their scope of practice.

Don’t be suprised if you encounter the occasional College Admissions Representative who doesn’t know or understand the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement policy as well as you do.  What you’re planning to do is extraordinary.

Tuition Cost for AA / AS Degree:  $0

Onward to the Bachelor’s Degree

To take full advantage of what NC has to offer, you’ll want to tap into their newest program that goes into effect FALL 2018 called North Carolina Promise Program.  The Promise Program has selected 3 colleges in NC that will allow your teen to enroll for a tuition cost of $500 per semester.  This means, your teen can complete their last 2 years of college (4 semesters) for only $2000.  Note that even if your teen doesn’t choose a Promise school, their AA / AS degree is still a guaranteed perfect transfer- but you’ll pay tuition at the rack rate.

You should budget in costs of textbooks (renting or buying used is often a big cost saving) as well as fees.  Most colleges have hidden fees or insurance costs.  You can find these out in advance, and use them as you calculate costs.  EVERY COLLEGE DIFFERS in their fees, so be sure to check all three.

Through NC Promise, the state will significantly reduce student tuition cost at three UNC system institutions – Elizabeth City State University, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina University – beginning in Fall 2018. The plan will increase educational access, reduce student debt and grow the state’s economy.  -NC Promise

To keep costs to a bare minimum, you’ll have to address housing.  If you’re fortunate enough to live within commuting distance (Pembroke, Elizabeth City, or Cullowhee) you can avoid the cost of student housing (between $2,000-$4,000 per semester!) by keeping your teen at home.  For two years of housing, this impacts your overall budget by $8,000 – $16,000!  Add in meals, and the “housing question” is no small decision.

What if you don’t live near one of the 3 campuses?  2 of the colleges (UNC-P and WCU) offer a selection of degrees that can be completed as a distance learning student!  While not “every” major could (or should) be completed as a distance learner, but some of the degrees are offered both ways- so distance learning allows your teen to live at home, avoid transportation costs, and save travel time to and from campus.

What about stigma?  Distance learning won’t bring a stigma that came with the older correspondence colleges, degree mills, and shady for-profit schools of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  Distance learning is now mainstream!  In 2018, over 98% of all public colleges and universities participate in distance learning technology (offers one or more courses in a distance learning format), and in almost every case, no distinction is made on the transcript or degree- in other words, the degree from either of those three state schools is identical whether earned online or on campus.

What about fees?  All colleges add in fees, the million dollar questions are “what kind of fees- and how much are they?”  Some fees you can control, for instance, a parking pass isn’t required if you’re not attending classes on campus, at Western Carolina University that saves you $350 per year.  Elizabeth State also has an $80 laundry fee you won’t have to worry about, but bouncing a check will cost you no less than $25 at each school.

Fees that you should expect include Technology Fees ( about $300/year), Activity Fees (about $600/year), and in some cases, you’ll have a Health Insurance Fee if your teen doesn’t already have health insurance through a parent.  Note that fees for residential (staying on campus) students and distance learning (not staying on campus) are usually different.  Be sure you’re looking at the correct classification.  Also note that with a completed AA/AS degree in hand, your teen isn’t subject to “freshman fees.”

Distance Learning Programs at Promise Schools (2018)

NOTE:  As of this writing, the Promise Program is in progress to launch- you won’t find accurate tuition and fees listed… yet.  I’m even seeing rack rate tuition. Stay tuned.

Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

  • Birth-Kindergarten Teacher
  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice 
  • Emergency and Disaster Management
  • Engineering Technology (Off-site/Hybrid Program)
  • Innovation Leadership and Entrepreneurship
  • RN to BSN (Nursing)

The University of North Carolina, Pembroke, NC

  • Criminal Justice
  • Sociology
  • Interdisciplinary Studies (Applied Professional Studies, Applied Information Technology, Criminal Justice, or Public and Non-Profit Administration)
  • Business Administration (Finance, Management, or Marketing.) 

Elizabeth State University, Elizabeth City, NC

Elizabeth State makes it harder for students to earn a degree via distance learning because they only separate out a list of courses the student can complete online.  I believe that they expect all students to attend on campus as a rule and that online learning allows for exceptions.  Based on what I could cobble together on their website, none of their degrees can be fully completed as a distance learning student.  This may change if their enrollment increases as a result of the Promise Program.  I’ll keep you updated.  Majors offered at Elizabeth State.

Tuition Cost for AA / AS Degree:  $0

Tuition Cost for BA / BS Degree:  $500 per sem x 4 

Tuition Total:  $2,000


If you’re homeschooling for college credit and live in North Carolina, you’ll want to get the inside scoop by joining our NC HS4CC Facebook group!  Readers from other areas of the country can find their state’s Facebook group here.

In closing, even if you don’t take advantage of the new Promise program, every homeschooling teen in NC can take advantage of the AA/AS option.  More encouragement from the North Carolina Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook group:

“My daughter graduated in 2016 with her AA, she transferred to UNCC, moved into her major after taking 2 classes that were needed for it over the summer, and will be graduating with her BS in May ’18 and early admitted to a master’s program and will be graduating that May ’19.”

  –Denise W., NC homeschooling parent

“My daughter transferred to Chapel Hill with her associates in liberal studies. She does have to take three semesters of foreign language and one life fitness class as part of the general requirements to graduate from Chapel Hill, but her Associates fulfilled the rest of the requirements for general ed and she is on track to graduate in two years.”

– Jennifer Brauns Anthony, NC homeschooling parent

“Western was great on transferring my daughters credits even before she committed to attend (which she did not) and if you had a AA or AS completed you were automatically in as a junior”

-Jackie P., NC homeschooling parent

Posted in Dual Enrollment

Dual Enrollment Colleges

Like homeschooling, there is no “one policy” for our entire country – A family in North Carolina enjoys free dual enrollment, while their friends in South Carolina pay a hefty fee- so if your state doesn’t provide an affordable option for your teen and you want them to take college courses in high school, you may want to look outside your state. 

Many colleges offer “distance learning” dual enrollment opportunities to any teen- you don’t have to live in that state!  (The schools on this all do)  In addition, you’ll want to be sure to use wisdom about choosing courses that will transfer into your teen’s future target college.  The #1 criteria colleges use for transfer credit is Regional Accreditation -every college on this list is Regionally Accredited, which is to say they meet the minimum standard.  There is no “higher” accreditation than regional, but a college ultimately decides for itself whether or not to accept transfer credit.  If you’d like to dive deeper into transfer credit, this transfer guide will help

Also, schools review and revise their policies from time to time, so if you notice a mistake, let us know.  We strive to keep this list up to date!  

Finally, comparing options can be frustrating, so if you’re not already in your state’s Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook group, I would highly recommend it so you can communicate with other families in your state.  That’s the best way to find out what’s available locally before you have to go outside your area.  The best resource we have is the collection of our shared effort.

Bluefield College (Bluefield, Virginia)

Type of school:  Private 4 year regionally accredited Christian college

Delivery: on campus or online

Called:  Dual Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  No

Cost for out of state:  $175 per course ($58 per credit)

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected courses

NOTE:  Residents of UT, NY, WI, KY, RI, NJ not eligible

Meg G, a parent from our FB group, has this to say:  “My son is in his second year of Dual Enrollment on the Associate’s in General Studies track at Bluefield, and he is also a senior in high school. He earned 27-semester credits at BC last year. During his first year at BC, Bluefield was great, but now in his second year, we’ve discovered some negatives… PROS: 1.) Inexpensive 2.) No testing required for admission, and no testing required for English and Math courses.  3.) Challenging coursework but doable. 4.) Small class size and professors are accessible. 4.) 8-week terms which is perfect for holding my sons’ attention and interest. 5.) Accepts CLEP, DTTS, and ACE credits. 6.) Christian college but does not push their philosophy on students.  CONS: 1.) VERY INFLEXIBLE about course substitutions. (My son got closed out of most of his required classes this fall, and BC would not allow him to substitute one of THEIR OWN literature courses for the literature course that he needed.) 2.) Will not accept courses from other colleges unless they match exactly the course that they offer. 3.) They (the registrar) often lose paperwork and do not reply back quickly…At least that’s what our experience has been.”

Bryan College (Dayton, Tennessee)

Type of school:  Private 4 year regionally accredited Christian college

Delivery: On campus or online

Called:  Dual Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  Yes

Cost for out of state:  $166/credit.  TN students receive a special grant scholarship reducing tuition by 99%.

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected offerings

NOTE:  Allow dual enrolled students in the study abroad program

Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia)

Type of school:  Private 4 year regionally accredited Christian college

Delivery: Online

Called:  Dual Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  No

Cost for out of state:  $182/credit.

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected offerings

NOTE:  Students must be in 10th grade or higher (no age restriction)

New Mexico Junior College (Hobbs, New Mexico)

Type of school:  Public 2 year regionally accredited community college

Delivery:  on campus or online

Called: Concurrent Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  Yes

Cost for out of state:  $64 per credit (1-11 credits) $768 flat rate (12+ credits)

Books:  additional cost

Course offerings:  access to full catalog

Troy University (Troy, Alabama)

Type of school: Public 4 year regionally accredited university

Delivery: Online

Called:  Accelerate

Assessment scores required:  minimum score of 20 on the ACT, 950 on the SAT, or recommendation letter from a high school counselor.

Cost for out of state:  $169/credit.

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected offerings

NOTE:  Students must be in 10th grade or higher (no age restriction)


Posted in Dual Enrollment

College Writing: Boosting Word Count

If your teen is taking a college course that requires writing forum posts, essays, or research papers with specific word count (200 words, 500 words, 750 words, etc.)  I have a few tips that can help them meet their goal.

Note:  this is not a replacement for actually writing a paper!  There is no replacement for good content, but if your teen just finished a well-crafted paper and has fallen a few words short, these quick tips can help squeeze out an extra 25-30 words without generating new content or a lot of stress.

Get in the habit of…

  1. Taking out all contractions.  Every “won’t” and “haven’t” should be replaced with “will not” or “have not.”  If you’ve used 10 contractions, you can add 10 more words by replacing them!  (While many teachers won’t care, it is considered more appropriate in academic writing to avoid contractions anyway, so do this even if your word count is on point)
  2. Taking out numbers and replacing them with words.  This won’t work on dates or long numbers, but in cases where you’re using a simple 0-10 number (5 steps, 10 cases, 9 dogs) you should use words.  Notice in tip #1 above, I wrote the number “10” two times?  By replacing the number 10 with the word “ten” instead, I’ve added two more words to the word count.  (See? I did it with “two” also!)  Like the first tip, it is considered more appropriate to do this in academic writing, so while your teacher may not care, it’s still a good habit to get into.
  3. Add the phrase “according to ___(textbook/person)___” when making a statement of fact.  This introduction will lengthen a sentence.  Depending on the academic style requested by the teacher, you may or may not also add a citation at the end of a sentence – but using the above phrasing adds credibility as well as a few more words.
  4. Like tip #3, you can take apply this approach when stating your opinion.  “in my opinion” in front of any opinion statements not only adds three words, but it tells the teacher that you’re drawing an opinion.  Teachers like opinions, they demonstrate that a student is thinking about a problem.
  5. “In conclusion” is a great way to start the final paragraph.  It adds two words, and it helps the reader understand that the summary is coming.

If you’re scrambling….

  1. Every paper needs headers and footers.  If your paper is 3 or fewer pages long, this tip will add about a dozen words.  A header will have your name, the paper’s title, and date (or whatever your teacher asked for).  When you use a program like MS Word, you have the option of creating a header that will automatically appear on every page.  This is great when you’re writing a long paper, but if you’re trying to boost word count, you’ll want to avoid this feature.  Instead, type the header manually at the top of each page.  This keeps it in the foreground and will be included in the word count.  Automatically generated headers are in the background and not part of the word count.   The same is true for page number/footer.  Instead of letting the computer write “page 2” at the bottom using the automatic footer (background), writing it in manually adds word count (foreground).
  2. Add 2-3 more references.  Depending on the teacher’s grading software, the words that make up the references are usually counted by a computer.  The computer counter doesn’t always know the difference, which will allow the paper to pass through the automatic word count filter.  While some teachers will specify that word count excludes references, this isn’t always the case.  If your teacher is a stickler for details (and highly motivated), they’ll manually count the words in your references and subtract it from their computer’s word count.   I would suggest avoiding this tip if your teacher specifically tells you how many references to use, but if they don’t, then it’s reasonable to have 1-3 references per finished page length.  (2 page paper = 2-6 references)
Posted in Dual Enrollment, High School, Transfer Credit

Dual Enrollment Basics

Member question(s):  How does one go about starting dual enrollment?  I’ve seen posts of homeschoolers as young as 15 who are enrolled in dual credit classes, however, I am still not certain if there is an age limit for them to enroll?

This answer isn’t going to cover all of it, but it will give you the basics and get you pointed in the right direction.

First, let’s define dual enrollment:  it may be called something different in your state, but the general concept is that the student earns dual (double) credit for their work in one course. 

Example:  Your 12th-grade teen signs up at ABC Community College and takes English 101.  As the homeschool parent, you award them high school credit for their work (12th-grade English) and the college awards them college credit (English 101).  It’s double dipping!  2 birds with 1 stone!

Access to Dual Enrollment

There are several “levels” of dual enrollment access, and most of the time it depends on the state you’re homeschooling in. In the most restrictive states, there is no dual enrollment allowed for homeschoolers at all– you need a high school diploma/GED to take college classes. Keep in mind this is a standard college entrance policy, so this isn’t really doing anything wrong, but they are not lowering their admissions and granting access- so in other words, dual enrollment is a privilege being extended to students, allowing them to enroll in advance of meeting regular entrance requirements.  As such, not everyone gets this privilege.

Here are variations of privilege you’ll find as you search the public community college procedures in all 50 states:

  • It’s not allowed for high school students of any type.
  • It’s “allowed” if you’re in public/private school, but not homeschool.
  • It’s allowed for everyone, but you have to pay full tuition (Illinois).
  • It’s allowed, but the state tells you how many credits/courses you can take (Ohio).
  • It’s allowed, and the state provides a tuition waiver for reduced tuition.
  • It’s allowed, and the individual school decides if tuition is reduced. (South Carolina)
  • It’s allowed, and it’s free for all high school students. (Georgia, North Carolina)

Now, once you step outside of public community colleges, you’ll enter into the private school arena, where anything goes.  Private schools almost always charge full price tuition, however, some state programs extend their waivers to be used at private colleges (Ohio) but this is not the norm.  Even in states where dual enrollment has full access and is completely free (North Carolina) you won’t see this benefit extended to private colleges.

Age to Qualify

And yes, you guessed it, it differs greatly.  Most states that extend dual enrollment require the student to be in 11th or 12th grade.  Some exceptions exist, like our friends in Florida who can enter as early as 6th grade!  Expect the college to require a copy of your transcript and some type of test score- whether it’s the ACT, SAT, PSAT, or one of the college’s own tests (Accuplacer, Compass).  Not all states require test scores for entry (North Carolina, for example, only requires test scores for some programs) but it is generally the norm.

In every case, graduating high school ends your dual enrollment eligibility, and you’d switch over to a regular dual enrollment student if you continue at that college.  If you plan to attend a different college, you’d apply there as a regular incoming freshman.

Transfer Student vs Freshman Applicant

The word “transfer” has more than one meaning in college, which confuses the heck out of people, and rightfully so.

Parents want to know if their teen’s dual enrollment credit “will transfer” to a 4-year college later, and the answer is generally “yes.”  That definition of “transfer” is different than the definition of “transfer student.”

First, let’s talk about a transfer student.  A transfer student is a high school graduate that attended another college, accumulated some credit, and then applied to a different college.  While it “feels” like this includes dual enrollment students, (your teen did just graduate, they did attend a college, they did earn some credit, and they are applying to a different college) your high school graduate is not a transfer student as a result of accumulating college credit.  The distinction is when college credit was earned, and in the case of dual enrollment, it was earned pre-high school diploma.  Therefore, your student is not a transfer student.

This is always a hot question because transfer students don’t always have the same access to housing, scholarships, etc. as a freshman applicant.  As such, it’s a lazy answer for me to tell you “so check the college your teen is considering just to be sure.”  The problem with giving that canned answer is it undermines the parent’s confidence in using dual enrollment (which is amazing) and it implies that there are some colleges in both categories, and it’s a coin toss what will happen to their teen.  Let me put that fear to rest.

I would NEVER lie to you and tell you that I’ve looked up every college policy for dual enrollment every year for the past decade, and that and that I’m certain that you’ll never encounter an inconsistency from what I’m telling you- what I will tell you is that I spend a LOT of time digging into this question, and I’ve never found a single college that treats dual enrollment credit as transfer credit.  Not 1.  Ever.  So, while it’s true, that the unicorn may exist, I’ve never seen it.  Thousands of college policies, year after year, I’m still waiting to find an exception.  As such, if YOU find one, I want to know- I need to know! I want the readers to know.

A simple rule of thumb: 

classes taken pre-high school diploma:  dual enrollment

classes taken post-high school diploma:  transfer credit

Finding Dual Enrollment in Your State

Dual enrollment privileges and funding can change from year to year, and I don’t have a good resource list to share with you.  As fast as lists are written, changes occur, and lists are outdated (!)  Furthermore, when you do your own research, it isn’t enough to find out if your state offers dual enrollment, you need to find out if your homeschool student is eligible. Unfortunately, homeschoolers are not always eligible.

When I research dual enrollment, the BEST document that I start with was written by The Education Commission of the States and has a ton of good information.  (Start there)  It’s from 2015, and so it’s 2 academic years old at this point.  If an updated edition becomes available, I’ll post it here.  Here is the page for Alabama.  They have pages for each state:

Program Basics
Statewide policy in place Yes
Definition or title of program Dual Enrollment
Where courses provided
  • At high school
  • At postsecondary institution
  • Virtual program
Postsecondary and/or secondary credit earned Both
Students may take developmental/remedial coursework for dual credit No
CTE component Yes. Students at two-year colleges may enroll in academic, career and technical or health science courses.

Local boards may elect to participate in the Early College Enrollment Program (ECEP), a dual enrollment program for career and technical education students in grades 11 and 12.

Students who do not have a minimum “B” average but who have demonstrated ability to benefit as documented by successful completion and placement identification on assessments approved by the department of postsecondary education are limited to pursuing career/technical and health-related courses.

Unique characteristics Private school and homeschool students may also establish dual enrollment agreements with postsecondary institutions.Students in grades 10-12 who do not meet the eligibility requirement of a “B” average in high school courses may be determined eligible to participate in dual enrollment “pending demonstrated ability to benefit as documented by successful completion and placement identification on assessments approved by the department of postsecondary education” (includes ASSET, WorkKeys, CPAT). Such students are limited to pursuing career/technical and health-related courses, and must have “a ‘B’ average in high school courses related to the occupational/technical studies, if applicable, which the student intends to pursue at the postsecondary level and” have an overall 2.5 grade point average.

The state department of education must work with districts with the lowest high school graduation rates to implement dropout prevention interventions. One of the interventions the department may implement is offering full course fee waivers to students eligible for free/reduced lunch who are enrolled in dual credit courses. The department must submit a written report to the legislature on the outcomes of dropout prevention strategies, and any planned modification of school system dropout prevention strategies and activities, based on the data compiled.

Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook State Groups

You should join your state’s group and try to connect with people in your state/community. This is how we can create the best and most up to the minute help for each other.  State groups range from small to large, active to quiet, so the best way to add to the body of knowledge is to invite others who may want to contribute to or benefit from discussing college credit options!  Find Your HS4CC State Group Here

No Dual Enrollment?

If you don’t have access to dual enrollment, you may be able to enroll your teen in a different state’s program.  The New Mexico Community College system is open to 11th and 12th-grade homeschool students, and their courses generally transfer back to your own state.  They are a popular choice since their system is the lowest cost in the country- about $50 per credit for out od state students.

Another popular option is DIY Dual Enrollment, which operates outside the college system entirely.  In this case, the parent provides curriculum and instruction, followed by a standardized exam like CLEP.  I have a lot to say about CLEP vs Dual Enrollment, so I made a short seminar for you on the topic:


Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, Dual Enrollment

Exceptional Potential

If your teen graduates high school with even one college credit, he’s ahead!  

That’s the message I want our members to remember, but for a few of you, your teens will have exceptional motivation, and for those students, there are amazing possibilities ahead!!  Completing a degree while simultaneously completing high school is not to be underestimated.  It takes a strong and consistent adherence to academics, resourceful and creative planning by the parent, and a cooperative relationship between the teen and the parent.  In addition to all of that, you need to find a school that will allow such pursuit.

In today’s post, I want to highlight a young man in Louisiana who did it!  He earned his high school diploma and Associate’s Degree this month at the same time.  What makes his story extraordinary, is that he didn’t start earning college credit until 12th grade!

Original story:  McNeese Spring Graduate


“Joseph is the first ever early admission and dual enrollment student who will complete an associate degree from McNeese at the same time that he is graduating from high school,” says Betty Anderson, director of community services, outreach and the dual enrollment program coordinator at McNeese.”

“Joseph purchased the Western Civilization II textbook, read it in two days and passed the CLEP test,” says Anderson. “Anyone who can read and master a college textbook in two days has great potential.”

“Dual enrollment also helped him improve his scores on college entrance exams. After his science courses, McKinney reports that his ACT science score went up “six points.” This, plus the boost in his math scores from taking McNeese’s calculus course, helped him to qualify for a McNeese Presidential Scholarship.”


As you investigate CLEP exams, know that they are one brand of a category called “Credit by Exam.”  Sometimes called CBE, credit by exam allows your teen to take an exam, and in exchange, their passing score is recognized as equivalent to college credit at a college or university.  The exam replaces your teen’s need to take that course, saving time, money, books, and 16 weeks of homework!

Before I ever used a CLEP exam in my own home, I took more than 20 myself- I wanted to see how hard they were, and if they were “real” ways to earn college credit.  In 2008, I earned an Associate Degree in General Studies by testing out of that entire degree (just to see if it could be done) and it really changed my life in so many ways after that.

Testing out of a whole degree may not make sense for most of you reading this, but it doesn’t have to.  Most community colleges and a good portion of universities award credit for successful completion of a CLEP, AP, or DSST exam (and a few others).  Even passing 1 exam in high school can make a big difference!

Posted in Curriculum, Dual Enrollment, High School, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

Straighterline and my 10th Grader’s Spring Semester

Almost as an afterthought, when my 12th grader started using Straighterline this past semester, I decided to enroll my 10th grader- for just one month.  My goal was for them to share the textbook I’d just purchased for my older son.  Efficiency is always an important part of our budget.  They’d share the text, learn lessons together (mostly) and we’d assess after the first class.  (NOTE:  In our second month, Straighterline’s policy for books changed, and a free edition of an eBook was included with each course’s tuition, so we ended up not spending anything on books after the first month!)

You can read about the basics of using Straighterline in your homeschool, or how to choose your courses in my previous posts.  For this post, I just want to provide a brief overview of what my son did, what we spent, and his outcome.  As you’ll see, the first month was so successful (earning 9 college credits) that I decided to continue for the duration of the semester (Dec-May).  You should know that he dedicated about 1-2 hours per day to his Straighterline course Monday-Friday as part of his regular school schedule.  He was able to complete his other homeschool courses (Chemistry with Lab, Consumer Math, and Building Thinking Skills) during another 1-2 hours each day.

As you read the schedule, I list each course and credit earned in the month that I purchased it, not the month he completed it.  Some courses were completed in a week, others in a month, and others took longer still.  As an example, Nutrition and American Government, courses he’d already taken in homeschool, took him only 1 week each, but writing-intensive courses like English Composition I & II took him about 7 weeks each.

As I write this, he enters his final month of the school year with Straighterline and me. We take a summer vacation, so I’m ready to wrap things up with our kids by Memorial Day.  He has completed everything except Chemistry and English II.  He has 3 more papers to write for English II and hasn’t started their chemistry course.  Since he’s been doing Chemistry with Lab all school year with me, I expect Straighterline’s General Chemistry I to go smoothly and take about 2 weeks.  Writing, for him, is a long and arduous process.  I expect he’ll struggle through until the very end.

Grades:  His grades have been fine.  Straighterline requires a minimum passing score of 70% for their courses, and he’s finished most of his courses in the mid-80’s.  His best course grade was English Composition I (100%) and his lowest course grade was Introduction to Psychology (79%).  Final course grades issued by Straighterline are based only on quizzes and exams (except composition and lab courses) so testing acumen is important if you want to score well.  Since these credits will only appear as “credit” on his college transcript, the final grades aren’t important to his GPA.  While I used his Straighterline courses to inform the grade I awarded him on his high school transcript, in most cases, the grades I gave him differed slightly.  (NOTE:  Since Straighterline is not a college, you never have to disclose any grades or credits earned/not earned through them.  Dual enrollment, on the other hand, requires full disclosure on college applications)

Breakdown of Costs & Credit

Month Class Cost Discounts Applied Credits Earned
December Membership

Introduction to Religion


Business Ethics





-$20 coupon

-$20 coupon

January Membership

Cultural Anthropology

Medical Terminology

Introduction to Nutrition





February Membership

English Composition I

English Composition II




March Membership

Environmental Science

American Government

Introduction to Psychology





-$49 coupon 9
April Membership

Chemistry I

Introduction to Business




-$50 coupon 6
May Membership $99
IMG_3442 $1376

-$139 coupons



The total we spent over 6 months was: $1237

Total credits earned:  39 

Breakdown average per month:  $206/month

The average price per credit:  $32/credit

What I liked best about his semester:

  • I obviously liked that he earned college credit since he’s isn’t eligible to use dual enrollment in our state until next school year.  This gave him a great head-start.
  • I liked that the course rubric (point break down) is spelled out clearly, so, at any given time, he (I) knew exactly how many points he needed to pass the class.  This eliminated a LOT of testing anxiety because in most cases, he’d already earned enough points to pass
    the course before ever taking the proctored final exam.  While the exam is required, passing is not, so his testing anxiety wasn’t nearly as high as when he attempted (and failed) his first CLEP exam last year.
  • I like that they added free eBooks in the tuition of each course.  This helped me make sure I had the book on day 1 of each class without waiting for books to arrive.
  • I liked that I can pay for my son’s classes with Paypal.  This allowed me to use sales from books I’d sold through the College Credit Marketplace Swap Facebook group.
  • I liked Straighterline’s video lesson format.  Since a couple of their courses didn’t have the video lesson format (Microbiology and Statistics) this can also be classified as what I didn’t like!
  • I liked that my son could do all of his courses without my help (after the first one!)

What I liked least about this semester:

  • I didn’t like finding a totally different format (reading only!) in the Microbiology course.  This was a huge disappointment.  There’s a reason that course is only $25.
  • Some courses had WAY TOO MANY quizzes, or the quizzes were WAY TOO LONG.  I can think of several instances where the quizzes were over 50 questions and covered 4 or more chapters in the text.  Both my sons hated these.  Obviously, since the quizzes are open book (I make them look up every answer on every question on every open book quiz- that’s low hanging fruit people!) these took a long time.
  • This seems to contradict what I just said, but other quizzes were too short.  Nutrition, for instance, was full of 10-question quizzes.  As you can imagine, missing a few questions really makes a difference between an A and a C!  The “sweet spot” according to my teens is the 20 question quiz.  I tend to agree.
  • Written assignments are not graded by teachers, they are graded by “graders.” Graders are anonymous people who you’ll never meet, and can never have
    a conversation with.  While they attempt to give good feedback, the loop is broken because the student can’t communicate with the grader!  In one instance during English I, my son turned in a paper that was kicked back for being off-topic.  It was clearly on-topic, so we had to submit a support ticket, which escalated to a course administrator, and finally resulted in his paper being accepted and graded.  The process is clunky and frustrating when compared with the other courses that don’t have graders (tests are automatically graded instantly).
  •  My son worked fast- and you have to because you’re being
    billed $99 per month.  So, there is a constant sense of playing “beat the clock” in a course. Since we were aware of the structure ahead of time, I adjusted his homeschool schedule and was prepared to pull back on his other work if necessary, but for me, the feeling was a little inconsistent with my normal approach to courses- allowing plenty of time for marinating.  When I asked my son, he said he liked finishing courses quickly instead of spending all semester studying something……so mark this up to personal preference.
  • ProctorU.  I really, really, really don’t love ProctorU.  ProctorU is the third party webcam proctoring service that is part of each final exam.  Your teen logs in, the webcam clicks on, ProctorU opens your final and then testing begins.  Initially, I didn’t like the feeling of the webcam experience, but my kids thought this wasn’t an issue at all.  But, the issue that we had at least 3 times (between about 24 courses with 2 teens) was technical issues getting logged in.  If there is any log in trouble, they route you to tech support, but if you don’t start your exam within the 15-minute window, you have to reschedule it and pay $5.  So, as you can imagine, this is really really frustrating because you have to reschedule your test!  Finals must be scheduled 72 hours in advance (or pay a rush fee).  2 of the 3 times Straighterline covered the $5 reschedule fee for us (I didn’t ask the first time because I didn’t think to) but it’s really inconvenient when you’ve planned your homeschool schedule around taking a proctored exam.  The room has to be private, quiet, and free of things that could be used for cheating.  In our home, the room that meets these criteria is our dining room, so keep that in mind too.  One final ProctorU comment, you’ll need identification for each test.  If you don’t have a driver’s license, they’ll ask for 2 forms of ID.  My son used his passport and driver’s permit.

    EDIT TO ADD ONE MORE THING!!  I can’t believe I forgot to share this earlier when I posted, but 4 Straighterline courses are also accredited as AP Courses. These are the SAME COURSE that is in their catalog, but if you take it, you can list the AP designation on your homeschool transcript.  Courses that qualify as AP are:

  • English 1
  • Psychology
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics

And no, you don’t have to take the AP exam to list AP on your transcript.  You CAN of course, but if you’re sure that the ACE credit offered via Straighterline will do, you don’t have to.  Some of you may want AP scores for other reasons- so that’s fine, but we skipped them.

Posted in College Admission, Community college, Dual Enrollment, Uncategorized

Community College in the News

NPR Want to Finish College?

Did anyone read The Center for Community College Student Engagement Report 2017? Maybe not, but you may have read about it on NPR’s website this morning.  If you have the time, you can read the quick summary linked above.  I’m going to take a moment and share my thoughts, which I think other Homeschooling for College Credit parents may find useful.

“Center for Community College Student Engagement demonstrates that students who enroll full-time in community colleges fare better than their part-time counterparts…50 percent of always-full-time students earned an associate degree or certificate. In contrast, only 23 percent of always-part-time students complete their degrees.”

The community college was my employer for 18 years.  I worked for the largest district in the state of Iowa, first as a department chair and administrator, and later when I started homeschooling, as a community college teacher.  Some of you may remember reading in Homeschooling for College Credit, that I was confused by the lack of love for the community college system- it serves a lot of people from all walks of life.  In fact, if you’ve followed our Facebook Group, you know that I have a lot of great things to say about the community college as a system.  That being said…..

The community colleges seem a little out of touch lately with their role in the education industry and seem to be having a bit of an identity crisis.

“Probably for over a decade now, there’s been a lot of conversation about getting more students to complete community college,” says Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director for the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. “While attending full-time will be unrealistic for every student, we need to think about why always-part-time students are having a qualitatively different experience and push for changes to be made.”

Here’s what she didn’t say- community college completion rates are somewhere around 8-12% depending on what source you reference. These rates make upper administration lose their minds- and I get it, they want to see higher numbers like those of a 4-year college (about 50-65% which is still pretty low), but what if they’re worried about the wrong thing?  Not everyone uses the community college to earn an Associate of Arts degree!

Community colleges serve a purpose.  They are open enrollment, which is to say that no matter your academic ability, they’ll let you sign up to learn something.  Whether you take courses for credit or personal enrichment, you’re allowed to register.  If you don’t have the required credentials or prerequisite test scores to take certain courses, they’ll provide those too.  Community colleges provide an avenue to earn a GED as well as many quick-employment certificates that can lead to immediate job training.  IN ADDITION, they also award Associate degrees.  


It is my opinion that upper administration has lost sight of their role in our community, and has really started to push for all their students to earn an Associate degree.  Yet, an Associate degree doesn’t always transfer to a 4-year college (depends on your state) and an Associate degree isn’t always an efficient route to a career (ex. Real Estate License requires completing a course, not a degree) and an Associate degree is usually full of general education courses- the very courses students complain about.

The report and summary go on to argue that when students attend full time vs part time, that they’re more likely to complete a degree (this shouldn’t shock anyone) so we should encourage all students to attend full time!  This was the best-dressed marketing effort I’ve read this year.  Of course, colleges want your student to attend full time, of course, they do.  You don’t need an economics lesson from me to tell you why community colleges want to increase their enrollment or why 4-year colleges think you should skip community college and head right to their front door.

EVERYONE is fighting for your student and the dollars they bring. EVERYONE wants enrollment.

So, what does this mean for homeschooling families who want to know where the community college fits into their high school?  I want to point out some reasons that I think the community college is worth your consideration.  This isn’t an apologetics piece, but it’s not a criticism either- it’s simply my thoughts and opinion on how to use the community college in high school and after graduation.


For homeschooled high school teens:

  1. DUAL ENROLLMENT.  It’s the community college is the most likely college to allow dual enrollment participation for your teen.  While a few private colleges offer this option, but those programs tend to have competitive admissions or restrictive summer programs.  Community college dual enrollment allows full semester enrollment that awards college credit alongside the high school credit awarded by the parent.
  2. VARIETY:  Dual enrollment through the community college is broader than that of a 4-year college, and includes liberal arts as well as career and trade occupational courses- reflective of the kinds of degree programs offered at the college.
  3.  NON-CREDIT:  The community college closest to you offers a nice catalog of non-credit options.  These are perfectly compatible with homeschooling and can be used as a full curriculum.  Best of all, non-credit options do not require the student to “apply” to the college, rather they simply “register” for the course.  Examples you’ll probably find locally include full sequences of foreign languages, computer programs, and even those that lead to licensure or certifications (property management, real estate, nursing assistant, EMT, and others)  The entrance requirement is usually “age 16” however exceptions can sometimes be made.
  4. TUITION BREAKS:  Some states have community college (or public 4-year college) funding that allows high school students to take courses for free or reduced tuition.  Call your local community college to see if your state has this program.
  5. DISTANCE LEARNING:  Community colleges have really embraced distance learning and a number Homeschooling for College Credit families use community colleges from all over the country.  In other words, you can live in any state and take advantage of the super-low tuition offered through New Mexico’s community college system (about $40/credit).
  6. TESTING CENTER:  If you’re looking for a CLEP or DSST testing center, it’s probably at your community college.  Typically, community colleges have lower proctoring fees than the 4-year colleges.
  7. TRANSFER-FRIENDLY:  Universities in your state almost always all dual enrollment and summer credit earned in high school to transfer to their university.  If they don’t, it’s probably because they don’t accept transfer credit as a general policy, not because of the community college.
  8. PRESERVING FRESHMAN SCHOLARSHIPS:  Credit earned while enrolled in high school almost never counts “against” freshman status, leaving your teen eligible for freshman scholarships.  Typically, the credit earned during high school is applied once the student is already enrolled and sometimes after completion of the first semester.  In other words, they enroll as a freshman, and after 1 semester may be bumped to a sophomore or junior.
  9. HIGHER LEVEL COURSES:  If your teen finishes calculus or French 4 by sophomore year in high school, you’re probably going to have a hard time locating a suitable higher level course.  For those students, it makes sense to enroll in the community college and access no only college credit, but classes at a higher level.

For homeschool graduates:

  1. OPEN ENROLLMENT:  The community college will enroll your homeschool graduate.  The entire “college application process” can be removed from your equation, and your teen can simply register for classes.  In the case of not meeting a certain benchmark for a certain class, the community college will provide a pathway to make it happen.  For instance, if your teen never finished Algebra 1, never took the SAT, and struggles through math, they can still enroll.  There are no essays, interviews, SAT scores, letters of reference, etc.  The college welcomes all students and places them in the level they need, even if the level is lower than “college level.”
  2. TRANSCRIPT ACCEPTANCE:  You can be sure that your homeschool transcript will be accepted at your community college.
  3. LAST MINUTE ENROLLMENT:  Applying a year ahead of enrollment is great if you have a target college in mind, but community colleges allow application and enrollment even through the first week of classes- assuming there is space.
  4. ENTRANCE TESTING:  The majority of community colleges offer their own entrance test at no charge.  This test, taken on your own schedule, is to assess writing, reading, and math level.  There is no way to “fail” this test, though doing well is obviously better for your student.  Students who have taken high school tests like ACT or SAT can sometimes use those in place of entrance testing.
  5. CLEP/AP/DSST AWARDS:  The majority of community colleges award college credit by exam for CLEP, AP, and DSST.  While policies vary, it is unusual that they would award little to nothing (if that’s the case, pick a different community college).
  6. ACCREDITATION:  Community colleges are all regionally accredited, that is the gold standard.  Note that not all 2-year colleges are community colleges and not all 4-year colleges are regionally accredited!
  7. ARTICULATION:  About half of the states have articulation agreements in place, which are formal contractual agreements between the community college and the state’s public colleges.  These agreements guarantee transfer of certificates, diplomas, degrees, or courses.  It’s also worth emphasizing that about half of the states don’t have articulation agreements, but if yours does, this is a huge bonus.
  8. GED / HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY: If your student wants a GED, prep courses and advisement are available (almost always for free) through your community college. Most community colleges offer the exam as well.  In addition, some of the new high school equivalency exams are worth 10 college credits.
  9. CERTIFICATES:  Unlike a 4-year university, community colleges have “bite-sized” programs that issue certificates or certification after as few as 1 class.  These are usually directed toward job training or a specialization (forklift certification, graphic design, etc.)  Sometimes, the classes inside of a certificate will transfer into a larger diploma or degree at the same college.
  10. TERMINAL DEGREES:  The term “terminal degree” means that the degree has an ending point, in other words, there is not education beyond the terminal degree.  Often, you’ll hear a Ph.D. referred to as a “terminal degree” because there is no degree higher, but at a community college, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Occupational Studies are also terminal degrees.  These degrees are not intended to transfer to a 4-year college, the degree is the highest training in that industry, and at the completion of the degree, the student enters their career. Besides an AA or AS degree, almost every degree at the community college is a terminal degree.
  11. STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES:  Unlike 4-year colleges, a community college sees a huge population that needs special support.  Whether it’s simple tutoring or accommodating a diagnosed disability, the community college is excellent at serving this segment of our population.
  12. AGE LIMITS:  Community colleges serve students from age 10-100 and attending classes on campus will likely expose your teen to people of all ages.  While the 4-year colleges serve the traditionally aged student (17-22), it’s not unusual to see a huge age range in any community college classroom.  We have Homeschooling for College Credit families with very young teens taking classes (as young as 12) and as a teacher, I’ve had retired senior citizens in my classes- they were some of my best students!
  13. COST:  Community college is almost always the lowest cost option for traditional college attendance.  The average cost of tuition at a community college is $100 per credit, so an average course (3 credits) will cost you roughly $300 plus books.  While this is a lot more expensive than some of the methods we talk about here (CLEP, AP, DSST, Straighterline, Saylor, etc.) those cost saving methods are alternatives that aren’t good options for everyone.  On your basic English 101 taken on campus with an instructor, your community college is likely to be your most affordable option.  As such, you should know community colleges WANT you to stay local.  They often hike the prices beyond belief when you are out of the district or out of state.  If you can’t attend your local community college, all cost promises are off the table.
  14. PELL GRANTS = FREE TUITION:  A Pell Grant is a financial need-based grant given to eligible students who have filled out the FAFSA financial aid application.  Grants don’t have to be repaid, so if your student qualifies for a Pell Grant, it will absolutely go the farthest at your community college.  Some quick math- a full Pell Grant award in 2017 is $5,575.00  That means, if your teen qualifies and attends college full time, they should receive $5,575.00  If you divide that by the number of credits you’d complete as a full-time student in 1 year (30), you’ll get $185.83.  That means, that your student’s Pell Grant will pay full tuition if your college’s per credit rate is under $185.83!  (know that the average in-state 4-year university charges about $300 per credit, and the average private 4-year university charges about $1100 per credit!)

Referenced:  Center for Community College Student Engagement 2017 National Report