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Rural students getting a head start in college courses at no cost with Boise State-run program

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 19:22:44-05

BOISE, Idaho — It's called 15 to Start, a program run by Boise State that allows high school students the opportunity to earn college-level classes at no cost.

"We really want to expose them to any education that they can and help build that confidence," said Karina Way, Boise State Assistant Director for Concurrent enrollment.

The 15-to-start program allows high school sophomores to enroll in college-level classes at their high school with no out-of-pocket cost to them. Boise State offers a scholarship to reduce the cost of classes to $75 dollars per credit unit, and the rest of the tab is covered by the state's 'Advanced Opportunities' funding.

That funding provides every public high school student in Idaho up to $4,125 dollars for qualifying programs that help them get a jump start on college and career.

"Those can be dual and concurrent enrollment. Those could be AP exams and a career and technical education. So there is a whole host of different things that those students can use that money for, as long as it's going towards advanced opportunities so that they are getting a head start," Karina Way.

While high schools across Idaho offer concurrent credit programs, '15 to Start' specializes in rural regions. And students at participating schools can also access Boise State staff support to help chart their courses for higher learning.

Brandy Grimm, the student counselor at New Plymouth high school, said the goal is to make sure kids know they have options and resources.

"Knowing that there is a direction that they could go so they can start a little bit earlier versus having to wait till junior and senior year. So knowing that they could take the credits that are already earning and that they are already working on, and have them work towards whatever their career path is after high school," said Brandy Grimm, New Plymouth High School counselor.

The rate of high school graduates going to a post-secondary school in Idaho has dropped in recent years despite efforts to boost those numbers. Boise State hopes this program helps kids see themselves at college.

"And then, I was going to go ahead and take my credits and transfer to USC cause its the college my dad went to a bit, but ultimately couldn't afford the tuition, so I guess im trying to live the dream for both of us,” said Dominic Hughes, Payette High School sophomore.

While it's called 15 to Start, many students are not stopping there - some even earning dozens of college credits before they ever step foot on Boise State's campus. Currently, nine schools participate in the program, but Boise State does have plans to expand it to more schools in rural areas.