UW System cuts funding for high school dual-enrollment program

School Districts will be in charge of funding program's future

The University of Wisconsin System will no longer pay for a program that allows high school students to gain college credit.

With the fear of possibly losing $300 million in the next two year budget the UW System is starting to look for ways to save money. But one of the programs being cut is having a ripple effect on local school districts.

Many high school students participate in the states dual-enrollment program where students can get credit for college courses while still in high school.    

The UW System used to cover the cost but has now decided to make the school districts foot the bill.

Some students in the La Crosse School District are currently enrolled in Biology 105, a college class offered through UW-La Crosse.

“The class they receive college credit for is actually being taught right within their classic building at their high school,” said Corey Sjoquist, director of admissions at University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

“Those credits are transferable to any UW System and you get a head start on college,” said Rob Tyvoll, supervisor of academic programs and staff development at the La Crosse School District.

Traditionally, students involved in the dual-enrollment program paid fees for the classes. However, this past year that changed.

“There were decisions made at the state level that colleges should be paying for dual-credits and colleges agreed to move in that direction,” said Tyvoll.

However, the UW System just announced it will no longer be funding the program.

“I wouldn’t say it’s entirely unexpected,” said Tyvoll. “I don’t know there was a long standing agreement about how long that would persist.”

Now, it is up to the school districts to decide how to fund the program in the future.

“Anytime there are additional costs that students, families or a school district has to face, that increases the challenge to provide students that course,” said Tyvoll.

“It’s a matter of funding it and taking those dollars from some other place to make it happen,” said Randy Nelson, La Crosse School District superintendent.

Tyvoll said it may even fall back on the families.

“In this case, it’s going to be basically moving to that historical model, where the families and students absorb the cost,” said Tyvoll.

If cost is an issue, the dual-enrollment program is only one of three different options many school districts offer for students to get college credit.

The UW System will provide $1 million for the program this school year, but then it will be up to the school districts to decide how to fund the program next year.

School districts will also be able to negotiate tuition costs with partnering UW schools.   

Republican Senator Paul Farrow is considering legislation that would allow school districts to use state funds to offset some of the costs in the future.