House Bill 444 and the changes it means for dual enrollment students


Since its inception in 1992, Georgia’s Move On When Ready program (also known as MOWR, or, more simply, the dual enrollment funding program) has been a beneficial option for high school students seeking higher level education. Through the program, students can attend a Georgia university or college free of charge, taking courses that earn them both high school and college credits at once.


However, the new year may also bring a new wave of change in this decades-old program. On Jan. 28, the Georgia Senate passed a bill that would reduce the number of college credit hours a high school student can earn. The bill, House Bill 444, “would restrict students to a total of 30 college credit hours, and would mainly limit courses to 11th and 12th grade students, with some exceptions,” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.


HB 444 was enacted in response to the racketing costs of the dual enrollment program. As most of the charges averted by the students, of course, are then shouldered by the state, the expense has only accrued over time.


As more and more of Georgia’s high school population began to take advantage of the program, those costs grew exponentially. Jennifer Lee for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) writes in this article, “between FY (fiscal year) 2016 and FY 2019, costs doubled as more students participated, growing from $49 million to $105 million.” Without the bill, MOWR would account for $123 million of the state budget for 2021’s fiscal year. 


While there is a grandfather clause for current dual enrollment students, there are still restrictions. According to the GPBI, “current Dual Enrollment students with 19 or more credit hours by the end of the fiscal year in June 2020 will be allowed to take 12 additional credit hours.”


Though the bill passed by a 34-18 margin, it is not without its critics. Some question whether a thorough enough analysis was put into program costs, and others argue that the change will discourage lower-income students from participating since additional dual enrollment courses will now be out-of-pocket.


Before any of the bill’s new policies are put into place, however, the bill has to clear a vote in the state’s House of Representatives. For that reason, the Milton Counseling Department is waiting to advise students on how to proceed, thus making course registration for those potentially affected somewhat a guessing game. 


HB 444, should it be enacted, will mean significant restructuring of MOWR, and likewise have significant effects–mostly negative–on high school students statewide. According to Georgia Student Finance Commission’s Frequently Asked Questions page, final rules are expected in May 2020.

By: Jessi Rich

Image: Coastal Pines