Iowa Community College dual-enrollment programs demonstrate big economic impact, research shows
High school students participating in dual enrollment programs through the Community Colleges of Iowa in a partnership with local community school districts saved the State the equivalent of $21.7 million in future state general aid assistance at other educational institutions and saved their families $30.7 million in future college-related expenses, according to a recent study by Strategic Economics Group.
“Our study determined that Iowa’s community college ‘early college opportunity’ program generated more than a five-fold return on the taxpayers’ investment,” according to former state economist Harvey Siegelman. The 2008 study was authored by Siegelman and Iowa State University economics professor Daniel Otto.
Dual enrollment programs benefit a number of areas reflected in the study, which underscores the importance of such programs at Iowa’s community colleges. “These programs are of value for several reasons. First, they are successful in helping students make the transition from high school to post-secondary education and the world of work. A growing body of research indicates that college students who take college credit in high school earn higher college GPAs and have higher two and four-year graduation rates. Second, these programs are strategic assets to meet Iowa’s workforce and economic development challenges. Third, Siegelman and Otto’s study demonstrates that these programs save the State and families a considerable amount of money,” said Michael Morrison, president of North Iowa Area Community College.
Derrick Franck, president of the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees, agrees, “This study confirms our belief that Iowa’s community colleges are highly cost effective providers of higher education for Iowans. Money invested in Iowa’s community colleges pays big dividends not only in increased skills for Iowa’s workforce but also in helping more Iowa students attain two and four year degrees.”
Kirkwood Community College President Mick Starcevich touted the study for “spotlighting a winning partnership” in the state.
“We appreciate the attention and energy put forth in this study, which can tell Iowa and the nation what we have already known in eastern Iowa for many years. These programs are positive in all directions, helping school districts, parents, the local economy–and first and foremost, our motivated young people. This is a classic example of how we can adapt and evolve our educational models for new times and new challenges,” Starcevich said.
Kirkwood officials cite recent study figures of their own that reflect the academic value of the dual-credit courses. Among those facts:
• Nearly all high school students involved in Kirkwood dual-credit courses complete their enrolled course work. In the 2006-07 school year about 97 percent of students in Kirkwood’s seven-county area completed their courses.
• College transfer courses are a strong part of east central Iowa student studies. In the past academic year more than 2,200 students took one or more dual-credit or career academy courses.
As a result of the savings due to the community college dual enrollment programs, the study also estimated the impact on Iowa’s economy translates to a consumer spending increase of $57.8 million, a personal income increase of $12.7 million, a State gross domestic product increase of $24.2 million, a state tax receipt increase of $2.2 million and an increase of 470 jobs, according to Siegelman and Otto.
Based on 2005 data, which was the most recent year for which consistent and complete data was available, 27,331 students participated in early college opportunity programs at Iowa’s community colleges. The students earned 142,140 credits in college-level courses, which is the equivalent to 4,738 full-time students.
More information on dual enrollment programs at Kirkwood Community College is available from Executive Director of Secondary Programs, Dave Bunting at (319) 366-0142.