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Reduce College Costs While In High School

529 Tips

How To Reduce College Costs While In High School

Focused on your family’s future, you’ve been dutifully saving for your child’s higher education expenses in Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage. Meanwhile, you keep reading articles showing that college costs are rising. As you save in a tax-advantaged 529 plan, your family can take additional steps to reduce higher education expenses before your student heads to college. In fact, your child can even earn college credits while still in high school.

Your student can accomplish this through three different programs. College Credit Plus (CCP) is a program offered by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). With CCP, qualified Ohio students can take college classes and have those credits applied to their high school graduation requirements. Another program administered by ODHE and ODE is the Career-Technical Credit Transfer initiative (CT)2. (CT)2 allows students enrolled in college credit aligned programs to earn college credit upon matriculation to a similar program at public college or university. Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which are available at many high schools, are another option. At the end of the AP course, students should have an option to take an exam. Depending on their AP exam scores, they can receive credit for the equivalent entry-level college courses. School districts and individual high schools decide which AP courses to provide. College Board administers the AP program nationwide. These three college-credit programs are further explained below.

College Credit Plus (CCP)

Since 2015, ODHE has offered CCP as an opportunity for Ohio students in grades 7-12 to earn college credit by taking classes offered through public community colleges and universities, as well as private colleges and universities. These credits may also count toward their high school graduation requirements.

Many Ohioans are already taking advantage of the CCP program. For the 2017-2018 school year, over 71,000 students participated in CCP, saving their families more than $148 million in tuition costs. More than 90 Ohio institutions of higher education participate in the CCP program, covering all regions of the state.

If you’re interested in this program, start by meeting with a school counselor to discuss the student’s graduation requirements, career interests, and college options. The next steps would be to talk to and then apply to the college or university from which your student would be taking classes. Students must take an assessment exam to determine college-readiness. The college adviser can provide information on the eligible classes available through CCP. Information sessions on enrolling for CCP for the 2020-2021 school year will be held between October 2019 and February 2020. Check with your high school for the exact date. The deadline to declare the student’s intention to participate is April 1, 2020. For students who attend private high schools or are home-schooled, the funding application process begins in February 2020 and will end early April 2020. Check the CCP website for deadlines and instructions.

Your student will earn transcripted credit for passing his or her CCP classes, meaning that each course that is completed will show up on a college transcript as well as the student’s high school transcript.

CCP students from public or non-public high schools who attend a public college are not required to pay for college course tuition, instructional tools, or supplies under any circumstances. Homeschooled students are responsible for providing their own instructional tools (books), but not tuition or course-required supplies. Homeschools and non-public students must apply for CCP funding to pay for tuition. Students choosing to attend a private college or university may be charged a small fee by that school. For more information, visit CCP’s FAQ section.

To learn more about how the CCP program can benefit students, check out the videos of students and schools talking about their experiences.

Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT)2

In 2008, ODHE and ODE launched an initiative to align career-technical education offered at Ohio Technical Centers or OTCs (adult) and high schools to specific college courses at public community colleges and universities in the state of Ohio. The goal was to standardize the award of credit at each institution and to facilitate the ability to transfer to any institution within the state that offers that specific program.

The (CT)2 initiative covers 43 technical areas from cybersecurity and automotive technology to fire fighting and nursing. To be eligible for credit, students must complete their program, pass the end of course assessment(s) and/or earn an industry-recognized credential, and matriculate to the participating college or university of their choice. Career-technical education for high school students isn’t always housed on the campuses of career centers or vocational schools; increasingly you can find college credit eligible courses and programs at a student’s school. If high schoolers are interested in this opportunity, they should talk with their guidance counselors to find the opportunities that best match their career aspirations. Students can earn up to 12 semester hours of credit by participating in the (CT)2 initiative.

Adult students should meet with representatives of the OTC to find the opportunities that best match their intended goals. There are 54 career centers across the state to serve the needs of Ohioans. Adult students may earn up to 30 semester hours of credit, depending on program area. Adults who are enrolled in an applicable career-technical program at an OTC are able to use their 529 funds to pay for tuition as well as qualifying school supplies.

Advanced Placement (AP) Classes

If your student wants to study at a collegiate level while at high school, look into any AP classes your school district offers. The courses available will vary by district and at each high school.

These advanced classes give your student an opportunity to potentially earn college credits while still meeting his or her high school graduation requirements. At the end of the course, your child will need to take the AP exam in order to receive college credits. A score of 3 or above will earn corresponding college credit at any of Ohio’s institutions of higher education. ODHE hosts an interactive website where you can look up what credit will be granted at each of Ohio’s colleges and universities.

You (or your child) will have to pay to take the AP exam; however, if your student scores well on it, that expense should cost far less than paying for college tuition.

Visit ODHE for further explanation of the AP process. College Board also offers guidance on the AP program.

These three programs – College Credit Plus, Career-Technical Credit Transfer initiative (CT)2, and Advanced Placement — are great opportunities to reduce college costs before your child pursues post-secondary education. As with Ohio’s 529 Plan, any dollar saved is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed, making these programs a wise investment of your student’s time and effort.

If you haven’t started saving for future higher education expenses, open a tax-advantaged Ohio’s 529 Plan today! For someday your child is going to college. Someday starts with Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage.

Posted on August 9, 2019

Ohio Tuition Trust Authority

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