Cutting The Cost Of College In High School


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From 1999 to 2009, the cost of one year at an American college rose by more than 25%. If you’re the parent of a college-age child, you know all too well what the hit on your wallet is. Now, the tax dollars you pay for education in Verona can help you keep college costs in check. How? By having your kids take college courses while they are still enrolled at Verona High School.

It’s called dual enrollment because students take a class in high school and get college credit for it. The classes are taught at the high school and not on a college campus, so while students pay to take them, the cost per credit is a fraction of what it would be at college. At Fairleigh Dickison University, classes cost $900 per credit. But an FDU dual-enrollment class at VHS will be only $70 per credit–credits that can be transferred to whatever college a student ultimately attends, potentially saving almost a year of college. “It is an achievable goal that kids could graduate VHS with as many as 30 college credits,” says Steven A. Forte, Verona’s new superintendent.

While dual enrollment is new to Verona, it is hardly a new concept: Syracuse University pioneered one of the first programs, Project Advance, in 1972. Forte brought the concept to Verona from Hasbrouck Heights, where he had dual enrollment classes in subjects like forensics and anatomy. Unlike the Advanced Placement classes now offered at VHS, which are aimed at the high school’s top scholars, the dual enrollment program will be geared to appeal to a broader range of students. “Ninety-six percent of the students at VHS go to college, so 96% should have at least one college class under their belt when they go to college,” says Forte.

Verona is starting the program this summer with three classes, but Forte expects to continue it in the fall and add more classes from more colleges, including possibly Syracuse. The initial offerings include a history class on the Vietnam war and a writing class, each offered in partnership with Caldwell College and each earning three credits. The third class is Professional Food Preparation Techniques, a three-credit class with Bergen Community College. In the fall, the dual enrollment offerings will include a class called Careers in Education with FDU and a computer science class with NJIT. Forte’s goal is to have a mix of academic and career-oriented dual enrollment classes.

For the most part, dual enrollment classes are created by matching current course work at VHS to classes taught at college. VHS teachers who have an advanced degree–masters or PhD in the college subject they propose to teach–submit a class syllabus to the college for approval, as well as their own resume and a transcript of their education. Once accepted as a dual enrollment teacher, the VHS faculty member will have the privileges of an adjunct professor at the college. “It’s a pretty cool thing for a teacher, too,” says Forte of the process. All classes will be taught at VHS.

Dual enrollment could also give a boost to AP classes at VHS. The district has been pushing more students into AP classes and tests, but this work is not always been credited at the college level, particularly when a student takes an AP class in what will be his or her college major. But AP classes could also become dual enrollment classes, which could increase the chance that students will get college credit for them.

You can learn more about the summer program here. If your child wants to enroll, the application is due in the VHS Guidance Office by May 15.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


  1. Great idea! It is important to remember that each school has different requirements. The AHEAD program at Bergen County Community College is open to seniors who have completed required courses and passed the high school proficiency test, while the program at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft offers credits that may be applied toward high school/college requirements. Either program offers students the ability to save money and enhance their college application resume. Colleges that have articulation programs with these schools will accept these credits readily. It is important to check the requirements at specific colleges a student wishes to attend. When investigating their AP and CLEP requirements, ask about acceptance of dual enrollment coursework.

  2. These are great options to help reducing college costs. I hope that Verona will also continue the High School Initiative program with Essex County College~ VHS students (juniors & seniors) are able to take entry level college courses there for FREE. All NJ state schools must accept those credits and for out of state or private colleges, it is up to their discretion. My child earned 6 credits through this program and yes, the credits where accepted at his college of choice (out of state). Sweet deal!


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