Columbus – Middle and high school students enrolled in the state’s College Credit Plus (CCP) program saved more than $163 million in tuition costs in 2021, an average of $4,368 per family, according to a new report issued Tuesday by Auditor of State Keith Faber.
“That’s real money saved by Ohio families,” Faber said.
Additionally, the number college credits earned through CCP more than tripled in the first seven years of the program, and more students likely would take advantage of dual enrollment with improved outreach and expanded opportunities for completing coursework away from college campuses, Faber said.
“Thanks to CCP, we have students graduating from high school with college degrees already in hand, and families are savings thousands of dollars in future tuition costs,” Faber said. “With some targeted improvements, even more Ohio students could be taking college classes long before enrolling in post-secondary programs.”
The results are included in a new performance audit of the CCP program completed by the Auditor’s Ohio Performance Team (OPT), a group of professionals with backgrounds in the public and private sectors that reviews the operations of government agencies and programs and offers recommendations to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
A copy of the full CCP report, with recommendations for increasing dual enrollment, is available on the Auditor of State’s website at https://ohioauditor.gov/performance/college-credit-plus.html. The release also includes the launch of a powerful new online dashboard that provides detailed information on school districts’ participation in CCP, including rankings of school districts’ dual enrollment, information about home school and private school participation, and geographic breakdowns of college and university CCP outreach throughout the state.
CCP was established in 2015 to replace the state’s former Post-Secondary Enrollment Option Program (PSEOP), which existed for about 25 years prior, with a goal of increasing the number of high school students completing college coursework.
During the 2014-15 school year, students enrolled in about 190,000 college credit hours through PSEOP. During the 2020-21 school year, more than 650,000 credit hours were taken by students through CCP.
Participation steadily increased during the first seven academic years of the program’s existence, with 76,601 students taking part in dual enrollment during the 2020-21 school year, up from 54,053 in 2016-17. CCP students who graduated in 2021 left high school with an average of nearly 15 college credits, the equivalent a full semester of classwork.
Additionally, as of 2021, nearly 8,000 associate degrees and certificates had been awarded to CCP students while they were still in high school, including 1,127 associate degrees and 385 certificates in 2021.
Studies have shown that students participating in dual enrollment were more likely to graduate from high school and pursue college or university degrees or other post-secondary programming.
At districts with the highest participation rates statewide, more than five college credits were awarded per eligible student during the 2020-21 school year alone. The list included:
- Russia Local School District in Shelby County, 6.08 credits per eligible student, for a total savings to families of $299,374.
- Miller City-New Cleveland Local School District in Putnam County, 5.55 credits per eligible student, for a total savings to families of $373,930.
- Franklin-Monroe Local School District in Darke County, 5.39 credits per eligible student, for a total savings to families of $383,142.
- Fort Loramie Local School District in Shelby County, 5.29 credits per eligible student, for a total savings to families of $483,893.
- Steubenville City School District in Jefferson County, 5.24 credits per eligible student, for a total savings to families of more than $1.6 million.
The enrollment numbers and cost savings could be even higher.
School districts are required, under state law, to provide information on CCP enrollment to families of students, beginning in sixth grade. However, several districts reported that they failed to comply with the requirement, and there was wide variation in CCP information that was provided by other districts.
“Despite the enormous advantages of the program, the fact is a wide disparity exists among school districts in how well this program is embraced,” Auditor Faber said. “One easy path to improved participation would be for the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Department of Education to work on a joint marketing campaign and provide standardized forms that could be used by every student participating in the program.”
Additionally, OPT recommended that school districts increase the number of college classes offered in high school settings, making it easier for students to participate, whether courses involve local high school teachers credentialed to lead college classes or agreements with college professors or credentialed teachers from other campuses.
Further, “While CCP has achieved the initial program goals of improving overall participation rates and minimizing student barriers for students, there is no strategic plan for the future of the program. In particular, data collected by (the Ohio Department of Higher Education) and (the Ohio Department of Education) on program participation (are) largely used to report out historical performance. This information, if used strategically, could be the basis of a forward-facing plan designed to increase access to the program in underserved populations, expand participation to save families additional tuition costs, and proactively respond to the evolving needs of Ohio’s future work force and economy.”