Lower tuition rates may mean higher interest in West Virginia Northern Community College's early enrollment classes.
Area high school students can now take a three-credit-hour college course at WVNCC for $75 thanks to new rules for early enrollment classes. The West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, as well as the state's Higher Education Policy Commission, approved the tuition changes that take effect in the fall 2014 semester.
Compared to previous guidelines for West Virginia high school students, the new rate provides a savings of more than $100. Individual institutions have final decisions on the minimum per-credit-hour cost of $25.
"The reduction is all about access," said WVNCC President Martin Olshinsky, who believes the opportunity enables students to ease into the college environment without carrying as heavy of a financial burden as they might otherwise. Confidence-building and field-experience are additional key benefits of early enrollment programs.
"Nationwide, folks know that if you get started early you're probably going to succeed and continue (with a college education)."
Olshinsky encouraged parents and high school students- typically juniors and seniors- to consider taking advantage of the lower rates. Aside from classes that require prerequisites, there are no restrictions in terms of course selection at Northern's college and high school. However, WVNCC does offer a scholarship for seniors in the technical and allied-health programs- students can receive free tuition and textbooks.
Although particularly expecting to see impact from the tuition change next spring, Olshinsky said the college will begin seeing results in the fall. Noting that community colleges in West Virginia traditionally carry the lowest tuition rates for students, he highlighted the early enrollment rate's drastic reduction making continued education even more affordable.
For high school students who have not yet taken tests required for course placement, WVNCC will allow them to take the COMPASS placement test free for the first time. ACT and SAT scores also can be used.