Students who want more from their time in high school can enroll for dual credit courses at the University of New Mexico.  UNM has been accepting high school students since 2008 in a dual enrollment program that allows students to get high school credit and college credit for taking courses.  Now more than 100 students have applied for the program for the fall semester.

Tuition is paid by the state of New Mexico, and school districts can be reimbursed by the state for providing text books. Those students who started the 9th grade in 2009-2010 will be required to take at least one dual credit, honors, advanced placement course or a distance learning course in order to graduate from a New Mexico public high school as part of a statewide effort to push more students toward a college career.

UNM is making it easier for high school students across the state by allowing them to enroll in Extended University distance learning courses.  Extended University has also agreed to waive the $100 course fee attached to online courses for those students eligible for the Dual Credit Program.

For some students it may simply be a new graduation requirement, for others it is an opportunity that opens new doors.  Lesly Ruelas will be a senior at Highlands High School next year, but she's already taken a number of college courses and will be able to enter UNM as a sophomore after she graduates from Highland in spring 2011.  Students who begin the dual enrollment early may accumulate enough credits to enter UNM as juniors when they graduate from high school.

There's a big financial incentive for dual credit students.  Their college tuition and textbook costs are paid by the school district as long as they are enrolled in a participating New Mexico high school or charter school.  Home schooled and private school students may also enroll at UNM, but they do not receive the same tuition reimbursement from the state.

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship is a recurring tuition award, which may be given for eight consecutive semesters.  The qualifying semester for this scholarship is a student's first semester attending a college or university after the awarding of a high school diploma or GED.  Dual credit coursework will not be used in determining initial eligibility for this scholarship but credits and grades will be factored into a student's cumulative grade point average.

The NM Lottery Scholarship can be used to cover tuition costs for eight semesters as long as a 2.5 grade point average is maintained and they earn 12 new hours each semester.  Dual credit students who complete their undergraduate degree requirements early may use their remaining lottery scholarship money to cover part of the cost of a graduate degree.

Scott Karlman, program coordinator for the Dual Credit Program in the University Advisement Center says the program is now attracting interest from students in rural New Mexico.  He just worked out an agreement with the Cloudcroft School District so a high school student in that district can attend UNM through a distance learning class.

He says, "This is a wonderful opportunity for students to get a head start on completing some of their college courses.  It should be especially helpful for students in rural areas who want to take courses in areas their high school may not offer." 

Any student who wants more information about the dual credit program can find it at the UNM Dual Credit Program.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; e-mail: kwent2@unm.edu