The U.S. Department of Education has announced that Bard College is among a select group of colleges and universities invited to test an idea with enormous implications for early college high schools. The U.S. Department of Education’s Dual Enrollment Experimental Site will enable approximately 10,000 income eligible students, including a cohort at Bard High School Early College Newark, to use their federal Pell Grants to access college courses in approved programs while they are still in high school.
Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) Newark has been in operation since 2011 as a partnership between Bard College and Newark Public Schools. This early college, like the other Bard High School Early Colleges, allows students to earn 60 transferable college credits and an Associate in Arts degree from Bard during high school, tuition-free. In the inaugural class, 72% of students at BHSEC Newark earned an Associate’s degree alongside a high school diploma.
The experimental site and availability of Pell funds will allow Bard to add more seats to its college program at BHSEC Newark. The experimental site also enables Bard to strengthen the argument that Pell funds could be put to extremely good use in high-quality early colleges like the Bard Early Colleges, and it allows policy makers to identify the best approach for doing so. This is a sign of real momentum for early colleges. Through advocacy and engagement with public policy, we have seen the use of Pell Grants to fund eligible students taking college coursework in high school become an increasingly viable proposal; now it is a pilot project with the support of the federal government. This sets the stage for ongoing federal support that can make these transformative opportunities available to young people across the country.
While not yet a lasting solution for supporting and scaling early colleges, the experimental site is an important step in that direction. And it demonstrates the need for Bard to continue making the case – through our advocacy and our example – for excellent early college opportunities to be accessible nationwide.
Thank you for your support and engagement, which has made so much progress possible.
Vice President for Early Colleges