This fall Kenai Peninsula Borough School District juniors will be able to get a jump on college at a reduced rate.
Kenai Peninsula College and KPBSD announced this week that the JumpStart program will be open to eleventh graders for the 2014 fall semester.
Previously KPC only offered the program to seniors at the reduced tuition rate of $55 per credit compared to the regular $174 rate.
“We’re just really excited for the opportunity for students and for helping them be successful … as well as thankful that it’s been extended to our juniors not just for out seniors,” said, Pegge Erkeneff, district spokesperson.
Students can take up to six credits each semester at the college. KPBSD students who begin the program their junior years will be able to earn up to a full year of college credit and save a total of $3,570 when compared to regular University of Alaska rates.
As an accredited institution under the University of Alaska Anchorage, KPC credits are transferable to nearly any institution, KPC Director Gary Turner said.
Opening the program to juniors became an option as the number of KPBSD seniors continues to decrease. With fewer seniors enrolled in the district, the current funding levels in the JumpStart program should cover the number of additional students who take advantage of the program as juniors, Turner said.
Turner said about 20 high school juniors currently take KPC classes at the full tuition rate. He said KPC estimations are that expanding the program will add about 20 additional juniors. But he said it’s difficult put a hard number on enrollment.
“We will see in the fall,” he said.
The program is funded through a 0.1 of a mill rate of Kenai Peninsula Borough property taxes. He said if borough funding falls short, KPC will fill the gap with funds from one of its foundation accounts.
“It’s important that high school students have the opportunity to become more college ready,” Turner said.
Erkeneff said opening up the program to juniors shouldn’t affect the number or variety of classes offered at the high schools.
“We have so many schools that it’s really going to be a few students from each school,” she said. “It’s not going to be a massive amount of students from one school in all likelihood.”
Turner and Erkeneff both noted trends show that students who take college-level courses in high school are more likely to succeed in college.
Along with opening the program up to juniors, KPBSD will also offer transportation between the college and all central peninsula high schools allowing students who don’t have a vehicle the opportunity to take advantage of the program, Erkeneff said.
She said the transportation between the college and the high schools will not cost the district more money because the First Student buses are contracted by day.
In the fall of 2013 KPC had 113 seniors in the program and the spring of 2014 saw 90 seniors. Turner said during the past 10 years enrollment in JumpStart has ranged from 90-150 students.
He said the majority of students enrolled in the JumpStart program live at home with some type of family support structure.
“That is really important to that younger student that’s getting ready for college and taking college courses,” Turner said. … “They have a family environment and a student support network, their friends, that makes it much more possible for them to be successful.”
High school students can receive advising and register at the Kenai River Campus in Soldotna from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on April 26 and 3-5 p.m. on April 28. Additional advising and registration dates will be held in August. South peninsula students can receive advising and register at the Kachemak Bay Campus from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. from April 21 – Aug. 22.
School administrators and transportation providers are still discussing shuttle options for south peninsula students to the Kachemak Bay Campus.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at email@example.com