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The Georgia House of Representatives passed HB 444, or the Dual Enrollment Act, which caps possible dual enrollment credits at 30 hours, on March 3. The bill is now headed to Gov. Brian Kemp's desk.

The Georgia House of Representatives passed the Dual Enrollment Act on March 3, sending the bill to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk.

The bill caps possible dual enrollment credits at 30 hours, which rural students at the University of Georgia said would have limited their college options.

It also limits dual enrollment in universities to high school junior and seniors, and sophomores must have an SAT or ACT score high enough to meet Zell Miller Scholarship requirements — a minimum of 1200 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT. All students except freshmen are eligible for technical college courses.

The bill, which passed the House with 103-67 votes, came from the Governor’s Office in collaboration with the Georgia Student Finance Commission, so Kemp is expected to sign it.

The bill aims to curb the costs of the popular program, which rose from $49 million in fiscal year 2016 to $105 million in fiscal year 2019, according to Georgia Student Finance Commission annual reports.

Dual enrollment accounts for less than 1% of Georgia’s spending on public K-12 and higher education, according to the Georgia Budget Policy Institute.

Sen. Brian Strickland, who sponsored the bill, said the hour limits aim to keep the program available to as many students as possible and keep their high school experience.

“It’s starting to head toward the way that high school was starting to be irrelevant for some kids,” Strickland said.

However, some rural students at UGA said the program was the only way they could afford college or be competitive with students applying from other districts with more opportunities.

“I think they’re just failing to consider outside the metro [Atlanta] area,” said Peyton Lee, vice president of Rural Students Igniting Success in Education and former dual enrollment student.

RISE sent a letter to District 117 Rep. Houston Gaines, who represents Athens, expressing their concerns about the bill.

“By imposing a 30-hour credit limit and restricting ninth and 10th graders from entering the program, the state would be suppressing student potential,” the letter reads.

The UGA Student Government Association also passed a resolution to lobby against the passage of the Dual Enrollment Act in mid-February, citing the “negative impacts it would have on students who rely on dual enrollment to attain their higher education goals.”

Gaines voted to pass the bill, but District 118 Rep. Spencer Frye, whose district also includes Athens, voted against it.

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