Early Colleges/Middle Colleges: Funding Mechanism
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Early Colleges/Middle Colleges: Funding Mechanism

State policymakers must address three questions when they establish an early/middle college high school program: (1) At what level will the state fund the high school costs? (2) How will the state fund the participating postsecondary institutions? and (3) Who will be responsible for students' postsecondary tuition? Each of the seven states with state-level early/middle college high school programs has addressed these questions in one form or another.

Why does it matter?
  • Low-income and otherwise at-risk students are normally the target population for early/middle college participation. These students are less likely to be able to afford any related tuition, and such a requirement could easily dissuade students from being involved in such programs.
  • Districts that can be reassured that they will not lose significant funding for students who participate in early and middle colleges might be more open to publicizing such programs.
  • Participating postsecondary-level institutions should not pay out of pocket for expenses incurred.
  • For any early/middle college program to be effective, it needs to have a steady and predictable source of funding.


  • Highlights:
  • Funding to high schools: Six of the states provide funding to early/middle colleges equal to the funding amounts provided to traditional high schools in every circumstance.
  • Pennsylvania does provide equal funding, but not in every situation.

    Funding to higher education institutions:
  • Five of the states provide an equal amount of funding for students enrolled in an early/middle college program and for students enrolled in a traditional higher education program.
  • The other two states — North Carolina and Pennsylvania — provide equal funding, but not in every situation.

    Tuition
  • Four states mandate that early/middle college students not be charged for tuition costs.
  • Michigan directs that students not be charged, but only under certain circumstances.
  • California and Pennsylvania allow schools to pay students' tuition, but do not require it.

    What's not included in this database:
  • While partnerships between districts and postsecondary institutions make early and middle college high schools available in many states, the state policies governing these partnerships are often either intended for dual enrollment, charter or alternative programs. Such policies are not usually a good fit with the unique characteristics of early and middle colleges. State policies included here are specifically designed to provide a comprehensive structure for early and middle college high schools.
  • State policies that address early college or middle college in piecemeal fashion but do not address the overall structure or functioning of programs.
  • State programs that allow high school students to earn substantial amounts of postsecondary credit but do not appear to fully align with the early or middle college model (i.e., West Virginia EDGE).

    As of August 2008, seven states have explicit state-level policies governing the creation of local early and/or middle college high school partnerships. States whose local early/middle college programs are governed by dual enrollment or charter school policies are not included in this database.

    Sources for all data points are accessible through this link.

    Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agency Web sites, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Last updated: August 20, 2008

    This database was compiled by Michael Griffith, senior school finance analyst. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3619 or mgriffith@ecs.org.


  • Funding mechanism(s)
    California State funding for secondary schools: If the student is enrolled in the secondary school for at least 240 minutes (for students in 9th and 10th grades) or 180 minutes (for students in 11th and 12th grades), the school receives full state funding for that student.

    Tuition: The community college has the right but is not required to waive the cost of tuition to students. Students must pay any tuition costs that are not waived.

    State funding for postsecondary schools: Students in a middle college high school at a community college are treated no differently from traditional students for state funding purposes.
    Colorado The contract between a district and institution(s) of higher education must specify the "financial provisions for funding each student's enrollment in higher education courses" through the program.

    State funding for secondary schools: A school receives full state funding for all participating students taking fewer than 11 college credits. If a student takes 12 or more credits, the school receives 85% of state funding.

    Tuition: Student tuition costs are paid by the school district. The district may negotiate with the postsecondary institution for a lower tuition rate for their students.

    State funding for postsecondary schools: Students enrolled in the "Fast College Fast Jobs" program are treated no differently from traditional community college students for state funding purposes.
    Michigan
    North Carolina

    State funding for secondary schools: Each program is treated as an individual high school for funding purposes, even if it is located at another high school, or at a two- or four-year institution.

    Tuition: Community colleges must waive tuition for early college high school students. Early college students at a four-year institution are responsible for their own tuition and fees.

    State funding for postsecondary schools:

    Taught in Association with a Community College: If a community college has contracted with a school district to operate a cooperative innovative high school program (CIHS) and uses community college faculty to teach a dual credit course, the community college receives full state funding for the course. If the community college uses high school teachers to teach the course, the community college receives a state reimbursement equal to the direct cost of the course plus 15%.

    Taught in Association with a Public Four-Year Institution: If a University of North Carolina (UNC) professor teaches the course, the institution may claim funding from the state. If the course is taught by a high school teacher, the institution does not receive state funding.
     
    In addition, programs are to "[e]ffectively utilize existing funding sources for high school, college, university and vocational programs and actively pursue new funding from other sources." Likewise, the local board of education and the local board of trustees "are strongly encouraged to seek funds from sources other than state, federal and local appropriations," and are "strongly encouraged to seek funds the Education Cabinet identifies or obtains under G.S. 116C-4." A program "may use state, federal or local funds allocated to the local school unit, to the applicable governing board, and to the college or university to implement the program." If the program has the local county board of commissioners as an "education partner," "the program may use state, federal and local funds allocated to that body." Even if not an education partner, the local county board of commissioners may nevertheless appropriate funds to an early college high school program.

    Pennsylvania State funding for secondary schools: A district receives full state funding for a student if the district pays the student's tuition and fees at the institution in which the student is enrolled. If the district does not pay the student's tuition and fees, the district receives a prorated amount of state funding based on the amount of time the student spent in the classroom.

    Tuition: Schools may choose to pay students' postsecondary tuition and fees. If the school does not pay, it is the student's responsibility to pay his/her own tuition and fees. Students may qualify for a complete or partial reimbursement through the state's Opportunities for Educational Excellence Program.

    State funding for postsecondary schools

    Taught in association with a community college: Students enrolled in a middle or early college program are treated the same as traditional students for state funding purposes. The only exception is if a district enters into an agreement with a community college, that provides the community college with district funding for dual enrollment students that exceeds the additional cost of the program.

    Taught in association with a four-year institution: Students enrolled in a middle or early college program are treated the same as traditional students for state funding purposes.
    Tennessee State funding for secondary schools: Students in cooperative innovative high school programs are funded at the same level as students enrolled in traditional high schools.

    Tuition: A participating student cannot be charged any tuition or fees.

    State funding for postsecondary schools: Students in cooperative innovative high school programs are treated no differently from traditional postsecondary students for state funding purposes.

    In addition, programs are to "[e]ffectively utilize existing funding sources for high school, college, university and career and technical programs and actively pursue new funding from other sources[.]" Likewise, "[t]he LEA and the cooperating public postsecondary institution are strongly encouraged to seek funds from sources other than state, federal and local appropriations.

    If the program has the local county board of commissioners as an "education partner," the county board of commissioners may allocate state, federal and local funds toward the program. Even if not an education partner, the local county board of commissioners may nevertheless appropriate funds to an early college high school program.
    Texas State funding for secondary schools: Students are funded at the same level as students enrolled in traditional high schools.

    Tuition: A student participating in the program cannot be charged any tuition or fees. Tuition and fee cost is covered by the secondary school unless the postsecondary school is willing to waive or reduce these costs.

    State funding for postsecondary schools: Students in an early college program are treated no differently from traditional postsecondary students for state funding purposes.

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