Cost is one of the biggest barriers facing students who want to attend college. While research has shown that college is a good investment in the long term, earning a degree has become increasingly unaffordable for many lower-income students. Financial aid available through the federal government or state and local institutions is an important resource for students, but it may not be enough to cover all expenses students encounter beyond tuition.
Programs like dual enrollment or Advanced Placement (AP) can help make college more affordable by shortening the amount of time it takes to get a degree. Students take college-level courses for free while still in high school, decreasing the number of credits they’ll need to pay for later. Locally, St. Petersburg College is taking that concept a step further, offering free college credit to students who have completed industry certifications, technical college credits, and even high school courses, all in an effort to cut the time to degree completion.
Pinellas high school students, for instance, can take advantage of SPC’s Academy College Credit program, which awards college credit to students who complete high school career and technical education “academy” courses in more than 20 programs, including Early Childhood Education, Computer Literacy and Culinary Arts. The free credits can be applied to an associate degree at the college. In 2018-2019, more than 900 students were awarded over 2,000 credits through the program, with a collective tuition savings of nearly a quarter million dollars.
More information about how to qualify for free credit can be found on SPC’s website. Students can also contact the SPC Career Connections staff at 727-302-6525 with questions about the program.