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The Dual Enrollment Act, which limits the amount of hours high school students can enroll in Georgia college classes, will go into effect on July 1 despite opposition from some University of Georgia students.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Dual Enrollment Act, or House Bill 444, on April 28. It passed 103-67 in the House and 34-18 in the Senate.

The law aims to curb the rising costs of the dual enrollment program, state Sen. Brian Strickland told The Red & Black in February. It originated in the Governor’s Office in collaboration with the Georgia Student Finance Commission as a way to keep the program available instead of cutting it entirely because of the budget.

In four years, the cost of the dual enrollment program doubled, according to the GSFC reports. The entire program accounts for less than 1% of Georgia’s total spending on public K-12 and higher education, according to the Georgia Budget Policy Institute.

The law caps possible dual enrollment credits at 30 hours per student.

Any high school junior or senior can take university courses, but a sophomore 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. The act allows all students except freshmen to take technical college courses.

The act also narrows the types of classes students can take to include eligible HOPE scholarship courses and eligible Career, Technical and Agricultural Education courses.

Critics felt the 30-hour cap would disproportionately affect rural or low-income students because the state pays for the college courses when high school students do dual enrollment, making college more affordable for students.

Rural students tend to take the dual enrollment route because of a lack of Advanced Placement or other opportunities at their high schools. Before this act, students could potentially get a two-year degree while completing high school, but Strickland said this unrestricted growth went beyond the original intention of the bill.

Students in the Rural Students Igniting Success in Education organization at UGA sent a letter to state House District 117 Rep. Houston Gaines to oppose the bill because they felt it would put rural students at a greater disadvantage to metro Atlanta students than they already are.

Gaines and state House District 119 Rep. Marcus Wiedower voted to pass the bill, but state House District 118 Rep. Spencer Frye, who also represents the Athens area, voted against.

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