Purdue Cal chancellor questions expanding dual credit program

2012-11-11T20:15:00Z 2012-11-12T08:35:04Z Purdue Cal chancellor questions expanding dual credit programCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

Purdue University Calumet plans to limit enrollment in dual credit programs because it's so expensive for the university.

Dual credit allows a high school junior or senior to enroll in a college course and simultaneously earn college and high school credit for the same course.

Dual credit differs from Advanced Placement credit in that students immediately get college credit after successfully completing a dual credit course. In an AP class, a student must pass the end-of-course exam to be eligible to apply for college credit once the student graduates.

When the dual credit tuition rates were set up, it was assumed the Indiana Commission for Higher Education would provide a $50 per-credit-hour reimbursement to colleges and universities that participated, but that incentive never materialized, Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon said.

Keon said Purdue Calumet handles dual credit a little differently from other colleges in that Purdue professors grade the exams.

"We spend a fair amount of time and energy grading exams. There are also administrative costs associated with registration and transcripts," Keon said.

Purdue Calumet faculty members also participate in various aspects of quality control and assessment. Purdue officials said that adds to the costs because it provides release time from other university duties for Purdue faculty to engage in that activity.

Students pay $25 per credit hour for courses based on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education Priority List. For Communication 114, Sociology 100 and Math 159, students pay $105.10 per credit hour at Purdue Calumet. Students who are on free or reduced-cost lunch are not charged anything for dual credit courses.

"If you're giving away your least expensive classes, it's got to make your average costs higher," Keon said.

Most local colleges and universities began offering dual credit courses to high school students in 2009. Calumet College of St. Joseph began offering dual credit classes a year ago. Valparaiso University does not offer dual credit classes, spokeswoman Nicole Niemi said.

Purdue University Calumet offers dual credit to 629 students at several high schools including Crown Point, Lake Central, Hanover Central and the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology. Keon said the cost to Purdue is about $150 per student.

Keon said the university intends to continue its relationship with students already in the program, many of whom enroll in Purdue after graduation, but the university does not intend to add any new high schools.

Ivy Tech Community College Northwest offers dual credit courses free of charge to high school students. J. Guadalupe Valtierra, Ivy Tech Community College Northwest chancellor, said statewide the college has saved parents $14 million by allowing students to earn credits through Ivy Tech. The cost for Ivy Tech to provide dual credit is about $110 per student taking a three-hour credit course, Ivy Tech spokesman Jeff Fanter said.

Dan Lowery, Calumet College president, said the college offers dual credit courses, but the classes must be taken at the college campus, not at the high school.

While Lowery said dual credit is expensive, he doesn't see that as the biggest issue.

"I think the jury is still out on dual credit," he said. "It sounds good, but there are a lot of people concerned about dual credit. Is it really college-level work? If not and a student gets college-level credit, does it water down the degree? That's one concern, and it's all about quality control."

Lowery said the other concern is that students take general education classes through dual credit, courses like math, communication or sociology.

"Does that mean that after a student graduates from high school and turns 18, they don't need any more general education classes?" Lowery asked.

Lowery said he is concerned about the educational value of dual credit and whether students are better educated and job ready as a result of the program.

Cynthia Odell, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, said IUN's dual credit program is an early college program that can be taken at the university, online or at the high school.

The cost of the early college program was built into the university's budget. The program includes instructional costs for administering the program and administrative costs for enrolling students and reviewing their student records, she said.

"This is part of a larger commitment by Indiana University and is part of our collaboration with K-12 schools to better align curriculum so that all students meet state and national college-completion goals," she said.

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