DOUG ROSS: Keon studying costs of dual credit courses

2012-10-10T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: Keon studying costs of dual credit coursesDoug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

For ages, we've been talking about the educational attainment level in Indiana, and especially in Northwest Indiana. More Hoosiers need to earn college degrees.

Barriers to higher education — including cost — must be addressed.

When dual credit classes came out, everyone was thrilled. These rigorous courses allow students to earn college credit even as they work toward high school diplomas.

Even better, dual credit classes cost students far less than taking the same class after high school.

Ivy Tech, Purdue University Calumet and others jumped on the bandwagon. Everyone wins, right?

Not necessarily.

Purdue Calumet Chancellor Tom Keon, whose academic specialty is accounting, is questioning the economics of the dual credit program.

When the program began, then-Chancellor Howard Cohen made sure college professors graded some of the papers to make sure the high school students were doing work at the college level, rather than receiving credits they didn't earn.

"If you want to keep the quality up, it's going to cost the university money," Keon told The Times editorial board last week.

To cover the extra costs of this blind testing, plus the training those high school teachers would require, Purdue established a fee of $100 per credit hour. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education later knocked that fee down to $25 per credit hour.

Keon said he put the brakes on Purdue Calumet's expansion of this dual credit program. Purdue's costs have to be covered. 

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

You don't have to be enrolled in a rocket science degree program to figure that one out. Tuition would skyrocket.

So what happens if Purdue's costs rise exponentially as a result? Enrollment would shrink, and student debt would grow.

Student debt is already a major problem facing the nation. Students have to make sure they're going to earn enough money upon graduation to pay off their college loans.

Which brings us back to the problem of low educational attainment in Indiana.

If dual credit classes aren't the answer to making college more affordable, because universities start realizing they're losing money and limit enrollment, what's the solution to making college more affordable?

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/DougRossNWI and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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