MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education will offer Pell grants to help low-income high school students take college classes at no charge through dual enrollment. The department recently announced two colleges in Memphis will take part.
The federal government released a list of 44 schools selected for the program, including Southwest Tennessee Community College and William R. Moore College of Technology, to take part.
Southwest director of recruitment Vanessa Dowdy said the federal funds could help high school students "knock it out and be ready to go to work, even after graduating high school possibly."
Dowdy said with the help of the grants, students as young as 10th grade can take up to 12 credit hours per semester, making it possible for students to acquire their associate degree by high school graduation.
"To enhance our relationship with Southwest is great, and to add Moore Tech as a school we will now partner with. This will just make the opportunities for our students almost limitless, I'd like to say," said SCS dual enrollment postsecondary specialist Armella Smith.
She said SCS had about 1,100 students take dual enrollment this school year.
The Pell grants will help students take more dual enrollment classes if they qualify.
It will cover the gap in funding, where state dollars stop, that SCS usually has to pay.
Southwest said its application pledged to expand dual enrollment to another 500 students from SCS, as well as districts like Bartlett and Millington.
The feds hope the grants will pay for classes for 10,000 students across the country.