Early College Scholars Program
The Early College Scholars program allows eligible high school students to earn at least 15 hours of transferable college credit while completing the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma. The result is a more productive senior year and a substantial reduction in college tuition. Students earning a college degree in seven semesters instead of eight can save an average of $5,000 in expenses.
To qualify for the Early College Scholars program, a student must:
- Have a "B" average or better;
- Be pursuing an Advanced Studies Diploma; and
- Take and complete college-level course work (i.e., Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge, or dual enrollment) that will earn at least 15 transferable college credits.
Early College Scholars are supported by Virtual Virginia and the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative. Virtual Virginia provides statewide access to college-level courses while the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative defines the subjects high school students can complete and receive college degree credit from participating public and private colleges and universities.
Virginia Plan for Dual Enrollment Between Virginia Public Schools and Community Colleges
In the summer of 2008, a revised collaborative agreement entitled the "Virginia Plan for Dual Enrollment Between Virginia Public Schools and Community Colleges" was signed. This agreement provides a statewide framework for dual enrollment arrangements between Virginia public schools and community colleges.
These arrangements may be made at the local level, i.e., between the representatives of boards of the participating public school and the participating community college authorized to contract such agreements. They may be formed in three distinct ways:
- First, high school students may be enrolled in the regularly scheduled college credit courses with the other students taught at the community college.
- Second, high school students may be enrolled in specially scheduled college credit courses conducted exclusively for high school students taught at the high school.
- Third, high school students may be enrolled in specially scheduled college credit courses conducted exclusively for high school students taught at the community college.
The revised agreement outlines dual enrollment requirements for student eligibility, admissions, course eligibility, compliance with accreditation standards, award of credits, selection of faculty, tuition and fees, and assessment and evaluation. Please review and use this revised document as a framework within which to engage in partnerships with community colleges to offer increased opportunities for high school students to take advanced and/or accelerated courses.
All dual enrollment courses may be counted toward the 15 college credits required for a student to become an "Early College Scholar." Certain dual enrollment courses may also qualify as part of the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative. This collaborative, involving all Virginia two- and four-year colleges and universities except Virginia Military Institute, provides a set of academic courses that fully transfer as core requirements and degree credits.
For more information about Early College Scholars or the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative, please contact Joseph Wharff at 804-225-3370.
Early College Scholars Agreement & Certificate
Participating students sign an Early College Scholars Agreement (PDF), which is also signed by the student's parents or guardians, principal, and school counselor. Students who meet the terms of the agreement are recognized as Early College Scholars and receive a certificate of recognition from the Governor.
School divisions can print the Early College Scholars certificates on-site through the Single Sign-on for Web Systems (SSWS). The Certificate Generator uses data from the spring Student Record Collection (SRC) to prepare the certificates. For more information, see Superintendent's Memo 100-19-This is a Word document..
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Among its various educational offerings, Virtual Virginia (VVA) offers online AP courses to students throughout the Commonwealth allowing students to take college-level course work while still in high school. Beginning in 2020-2021 students participating in the Early College Scholars (ECS) program will no longer have AP examination fees reimbursed by the VDOE for any Virtual Virginia AP course taken. The VDOE and VVA encourage all students taking AP courses to take the associated examinations so they may earn college credit. (Superintendent's Memo #219-20-This is a Word document.)
The Commonwealth College Course Collaborative supports the Early College Scholars program by providing a set of academic courses that fully transfer as core requirements and degree credits at Virginia colleges and universities.
More information on the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative and the participating institutions, is available through the Virginia Education Wizard, a tool developed to help students navigate the process of selecting careers, finding majors, estimating the cost of college, finding and applying for financial aid and scholarships, indentify transfer pathways, and planning for entry into a community college or a four-year institution.