Early College High Schools Have New Channel to University of Houston

Greater Texas Foundation Grant Creates Venue for Houston Students to Finish College Early

The prospect of earning a college degree can be daunting.  The opportunity to earn up to 60 hours of college credit while still in high school provides a significant jump-start.

A $605,000 grant from the Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) will assist graduates of schools designated as Early College High Schools make the transition to the University of Houston ontheir way to completion of their college degrees.

Early College High Schools (ECHS) are institutions that offer dual credit college courses to their students and allow them to enter a university with up to half of their degree course load completed.

"Greater Texas Foundation shares our belief that student success benefits everyone and that degree completion is the ultimate measure of that priority," said Marshal Schott, UH assistant vice president of instructional support and outreach.   "Thanks to their generosity, more students will be closer to their dream of becoming college graduates."

GTF believes that to close the gaps in post secondary degree completion, students must transition successfully from high school to post secondary education and be supported through completion of a credential or baccalaureate degree once in post secondary education.

"By succeeding in rigorous high school and community college courses, students in ECHSs begin to see the value of earning college hours," said Wynn Rosser, executive director of GTF. "At the same time, they gain the knowledge, skills, confidence and motivation to succeed at a four-year institution. As college tuition rates rise, providing a seamless transition between high school and college is more important than ever."

Currently, UH partners with one ECHS—Challenge Early College High School.  The grant will allow the university to formally create partnerships with other ECHSs and provide scholarships to a cohort of 25 students each year beginning in 2012 through 2018.  Students who have earned significant college credit prior to entering a university typically do not receive a lot of financial assistance.  Funding from GTF will allow these students to complete their bachelor's degree without assuming large loan obligations or other forms of debt.

"This grant will make the process more expeditious for all ECHS students because we will have liaisons working with the student, their parents and counselors to complete the steps accurately and early," said Schott.

Prospective and enrolled students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the program, maintain a satisfactory grade point average and complete 30 course credits each academic year.

Graduation completion is a cornerstone of UH President Renu Khator's vision for the university.

"Our highest priority is ensuring the success of our students and ensuring they complete their degrees," Khator said.

The University of Houston was one of five Texas colleges to receive the grant.  Other colleges are The University of Texas at Brownsville, The University ofTexas at El Paso, University of North Texas and Texas A&M University.