New program lets Wichita students earn free college credits

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Public Schools district and Friends University have partnered to launch a program that'll allow high school students to earn two years' worth of college credit for free by graduation.

The Early College Academy will start next fall at Wichita Northwest High School, the Wichita Eagle reported. The program will target traditionally underrepresented students, such as those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to officials. The district will pay the university $50 per credit hour so that credits are free to students.

Students are invited to apply to the academy, and 50 will be selected for the first freshman class in fall 2019.

Students in the program will take some classes on the Friends University campus in Wichita, starting the summer before their sophomore year. They'll be required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average and take dual- and concurrent-credit courses, including college algebra, American government and microeconomics.

Academy students will take the majority of their classes at Friends by senior year. They'll be able to earn up to 54 credit hours, which enables most students to start college as a third-year student.

Officials said that the college credits are transferable to any university.

"There are some rock stars out there where their family might be saying, 'Here's an opportunity for us to change the trajectory of our family, and we want to really get into this program,'" said Terrell Davis, the district's executive director of public affairs and special projects. "Here's our opportunity to really make a targeted decision to open up some opportunities to students to see life outside of high school."

Friends President Amy Bragg Carey said the university is delighted to work on the program with the district, regardless of whether academy students end up enrolling there.

"It's our desire to give this vision for college to as many students in the Wichita area as possible, to give them the sense that they can do it," Carey said.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com


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