Arizona TCUs Offer Dual Credit Initiative

Apr 14th, 2015 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Lori Tapahonso

High school students in Arizona will soon be able to gain dual college credit at the state’s three tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Administrators from Diné College, Tohono O’Odham Community College, and Navajo Technical University (NTU) recently met with representatives from the Arizona Department of Education to formally outline parameters so that the three institutions can offer dual credit classes to high school students living within the TCUs’ service areas.

Dual credit programs allow high school students to take college-level courses while still enrolled in high school. The classes are taught at their home schools by adjunct faculty approved by the credit-granting higher education institutions. The programs are popular because they allow high school students to get a jump start in gaining college credits. Students are limited to approved courses, which vary by college.

The higher education dual credit initiative was first introduced in Arizona in 2000 for all community colleges and universities within the state’s higher education system. Since Arizona’s TCUs are not part of that system, they were unable to offer dual credit programs. Then, in early 2014, Arizona Representative Jamescita Peshlakai introduced legislation that allows the state’s three TCUs to create dual credit programs specifically for their own institutions.

Dual credit programs at non-TCUs in Arizona are locally funded by participating school districts. Since Arizona’s three TCUs are not part of the state’s higher education system, they are ineligible for local funding. Once the initial dual credit legislation was signed into law, further Arizona legislation was passed providing funding for the program with unclaimed lottery money. Those funds are used to offset the $55 per credit hour cost for high school students to enroll in college courses at TCUs.

Diné College and NTU service-area students live in both Arizona and New Mexico, but only those in Arizona can utilize the unclaimed lottery funds to offset college costs. New Mexico already allows Diné College and NTU to offer dual credit courses. Indeed, New Mexico state senator John Pinto pushed through the dual credit legislation in 2011 for the state’s consortium of TCUs, including Diné College, NTU, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. Funding for the New Mexico TCU dual credit programs is provided through the state’s Tribal College Dual Credit Program Fund.


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