LAPEER, Michigan — The numbers are staggering.
Seven out of 10 college graduates start their careers steeped in, on average, $30,000 worth of student loan debt. College tuition continues to rise, rates of default have skyrocketed and interest rates remain high.
Preferring to open their wallets before graduation to opening their basements after, many parents know the feeling all too well: the cost of college can break the bank.
The newest innovative program for students of Lapeer Community Schools addresses this reality head on, offering students the opportunity to earn an associate degree just one year removed from high school.
Lapeer Early College (LEC), partnered with Mott Community College and Baker College, integrates high school and college curricula starting in a student’s junior year. It’s a three-year commitment to increased academic rigor with access to college courses inside a traditional high school schedule.
During the 13th year, most of a student’s time is spent at our partner colleges. After completion of the program, students will receive their LHS diploma and can earn an associate degree or 60 college credits from their partner school.
And here’s the best part: the first degree is on us.
Tuition, books and fees up to the amount approved by the state ($615 per course) will be paid by Lapeer Community Schools. Consider that the average cost for one year at a public college is more than $9,000 in tuition and fees. For private school, you can add an extra digit. We’re talking real money.
“This represents a huge potential financial benefit to students and families,” said Matt Olson, LCS Director of Innovation. “College debt can be crushing, and this represents an opportunity to bring the cost of a college education down substantially, potentially to nothing.
There’s an added bonus for students who might be bummed out about the prospect of sticking around home for an extra year. Lapeer Early College students can fully participate in all senior-year activities, including commencement and extra-curriculars.
This opportunity for students works hand-in-hand with the District’s existing College on Campus program, that brings in professors from several local colleges to teach high school students at the Center for Innovation (former West High School campus).
“This is a natural progression of that program,” said Susan Wilmers, Director of Transitions for the District. “LEC students will take advantage of the college classes being offered in Lapeer during the school day with LCS transportation, as well taking traditional courses on the college campus.”
Wilmers goes one step further, making the case that early adoption of innovative opportunities like LEC better prepares students for life after college.
“Lapeer offers choices and opportunities for students to experience college and so much more,” she said. “Our students gain experience in technical fields and formulate career interests, both critical steps in making decisions about college and career.”
For more information on Lapeer Early College, call 810-667-2401 or visit LapeerSchools.org. Applications will be accepted through March 4, 2016.