South Texas College Saving You Money

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Since 2000, the Dual Credit Program at South Texas College has saved its partnering school districts and its dual credit students $340 million.

STC’s program is unique, as it waives tuition for its 21 Hidalgo and Starr County partnering school districts so students may begin their college journey while in high school.

“These savings further validate South Texas College’s success in offering dual credit opportunities to the community,” said Rebecca De Leon, STC dean for Dual Credit Programs and School District Partnerships. “School districts, students, and their families are taking advantage of this great program that saves students time and money.

“Affording a college education may be challenging for many families, therefore completing two years of college while in high school is a game changer — especially in our region.”

According to De Leon, STC has nearly 10,000 dual credit students enrolled from local school districts annually.

One of those school districts is the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, with seven of its high school campuses participating in STC’s dual credit programs.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the district had a cost savings of $7.6 million. Over the decade of its partnership with STC, it has had a total savings of more than $73 million — the highest cost savings among STC’s partnering schools.

Former PSJA Superintendent Jorge L. Arredondo, Ph.D., said the relationship they have with STC sets their students up for success.

“Our parents and students value the expectation that we provide our students with a first-class education that includes dual credit courses,” he said. “And as the leading district, we appreciate the partnership and relationship with STC.

“We want to position our students ahead in their trajectory with post-secondary opportunities, and that is why we make an annual investment of close to $2 million for our students and families to lessen economic barriers in achieving post-secondary readiness. When you factor the dual investment made by both PSJA and STC, it really is a big win for our students and families.”

One of those students taking advantage of the partnership between his school district and STC is Paul Gonzalez, a senior at Preparatory for Early College High School in Rio Grande City.

The 18-year-old has taken dual credit courses since his freshman year in the spring of 2020.

“I’ve always had high scholastic goals and I found dual credit courses to be beneficial and fundamental for me and my family,” Gonzalez said. “It has allowed me to finish nearly two years of college, giving me a head start and saving me time and money.

“And for students here in the RGV, that’s a big deal. I’m thankful to STC and my school district for giving us this opportunity.”

Gonzalez recently graduated from STC with an associate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

De Leon said that the mission of the program is to create a college-going culture, like it has for Gonzalez.

“The future of our region is looking much brighter as we continue to provide high school students the opportunity to earn a college credential prior to graduating with their high school diploma,” she said. “Establishing partnerships with school districts, such as PSJA and Rio Grande City Grulla ISD, is key to ensuring that we are able to reach more students.

“STC’s Dual Credit Program is committed to our partners, students, and community to increase educational attainment and minimize barriers.”

For more information on STC’s Dual Credit Program, visit southtexascollege.edu/dual.

Amanda Sotelo