Dual-enrolled high school students get free tuition


Helena Gryder

High school students can take classes at AACC for free. Shown, Helena Gryder, a Broadneck High School senior and first year at AACC.

Tomi Brunton, Reporter

Some high school students who also take classes at AACC will no longer pay tuition.

In fact, Anne Arundel County Public School students enrolled in the Early College Access Program will receive refunds for the tuition they already paid for the fall and summer 2022 terms under a new state law designed to improve the quality of education in Maryland.

“It’s an opportunity to bring more equity to students who can benefit from postsecondary education,” John Grabowski, AACC’s dean of enrollment services, said.

AACC’s 1,172 dual-enrolled students previously paid tuition at half the regular cost. ECAP students still pay registration, lab and general student fees.

Homeschooled and private school students are eligible for ECAP but do not qualify for the new free tuition.

Helena Gryder, a Broadneck High School senior who takes classes here, said the changes are “really exciting.”

“It’s really good to prepare you for what four-year college is going to be like,” Gryder, a first-year undecided student, said. “I do see [AACC] having more high school students. And I think that’s a good thing.”

First-year undecided student Ike Jones, an Arundel High School senior, agreed.

“It opens up more options to kids who, like, might not have the money to pay for college tuition,” Jones said. “I think … having more people around will, kind of, help jump-start new ideas and … get more things moving.”

Dual-enrolled homeschool student Aidan Gunn said his experience with AACC has  been “incredibly positive,” but he said he is “frustrated” homeschool students are not included in the free-tuition plan.

“Hopefully, they can kind of bridge the gap there a little bit and offer free tuition to homeschooled  students as well,” Gunn, a first-year undecided student, said. “[But] I think that offering free [community college] tuition to high school students in general is a huge step.”

Grabowski said he hopes the program will make AACC “an option” for students who can’t afford to pay tuition.

“[I want] to make sure that everyone in society, regardless of their background, ethnicity, race, gender, all have equal opportunity to successfully engage in post-secondary education,” Grabowski said.

Gunn said he has enjoyed being a dual-enrolled student.

“I think the best part about being a dual enrollment student is that not only does it give me a taste of the college experience … it also helps my [college] application process,” Gunn said. “That’s going to help me get into four-year schools. So it’s giving me the experience, but it’s also making me a better candidate for my future.”

Grabowski said offering free tuition to dual-enrolled high school students will increase their numbers at the college.