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Some Spotsylvania parents to get rebates
Spotsylvania parents to get refund on dual-enrollment class tuition to bring county in line with fees charged elsewhere.

Date published: 11/25/2011

By PAMELA GOULD

Parents of Spotsylvania County students taking dual enrollment classes will get a rebate soon and a reduced tuition rate in the future.

The Spotsylvania School Board has voted to refund 75 percent of the tuition families paid for fall semester classes at Germanna Community College.

The decision was made to bring Spotsylvania students' dual enrollment fees in line with what other area high school students pay.

"I think this will increase enrollment," School Board member Linda Wieland said at the Nov. 14 work session where the board approved the change.

"We hope that it will," said schools Chief Financial Officer LaShahn Gaines.

The dual enrollment program, approved by the state in January 2005, allows high school students to take college courses and simultaneously earn college credits and credits toward their diplomas.

Gaines presented the board with data showing that Spotsylvania and Orange County students have been paying 100 percent of the tuition whereas students in other local jurisdictions have paid a fraction of the cost.

Stafford students pay 20 percent of the tuition; Fredericksburg students pay 24 percent and Caroline County students pay about 30 percent, according to data assembled by school division staff.

Except for Orange, the state reimburses each of those school districts 80 percent of the tuition. Orange gets back 75 percent.

Tuition for classes at Germanna Community College is $119 per credit hour, or $357 for a three-credit course.

Students taking a three-credit class this semester can expect to receive a refund of $267.75 next month.

For future semesters, Spotsylvania students will pay 25 percent of the tuition. That's $29.75 per credit hour, or $89.25 per three-credit class, a little more than the cost of an advanced placement test. Performance on AP tests can exempt students from taking some college classes.

But while board member Marty Wilder supports the tuition reduction for dual enrollment students, he said he doesn't want parents and students to confuse the two programs.

"AP is still the gold standard" when college admissions officials are reviewing high school transcripts to decide which applicants to accept, he said.

Wilder is chief of staff to University of Mary Washington President Rick Hurley, and previously served in the school's admissions office.

He said the Spotsylvania school division had been unable to help students with the cost of AP tests and dual enrollment tuition lately because of the tight economy.

Wilder suggested the division monitor enrollment in both AP and dual enrollment courses to see how they go in the future to make sure AP classes don't see a drop-off.

The tuition refunds to families will cost taxpayers $126,914. The refunds are to be paid for with unspent funds carried over from the last fiscal year that the Board of Supervisors is expected to release to the school division in mid-December.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
Email: pgould@freelancestar.com