Boulder Valley School District

BVSD students can now earn an associate degree while enrolled in high school, tuition-free

monarch students at graduation

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High school students in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) can now earn an associate degree from Front Range Community College (FRCC) while enrolled in high school, tuition-free. 

This option is now available as a pathway for all BVSD high school students, including those enrolled through Boulder Universal, BVSD’s online K-12 school, with course  offerings varying campus to campus.

“This opportunity can be life-changing for high school students, especially those who are the first in their family to graduate from high school or attend college,” shares Dr. Bianca Gallegos, BVSD’s Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships. “Earning an associate degree upon high school graduation provides a significant head start on higher education opportunities and  impressive cost savings.”

Gallegos shared that it’s important that all parents understand their high school student can and should explore these opportunities.

“All students are capable of taking these courses and successfully earning college credit while in high school, don’t think it’s not for your student,” shares Gallegos. “Once students see that they can be successful in these courses in high school, they become confident and motivated to pursue postsecondary education options.”

This is possible thanks to BVSD’s Grad Plus framework which expands graduates' skill sets by providing students with learning opportunities and credentials that offer a head start on a career, postsecondary education, or both. One of the four quadrants of the Grad Plus framework is College Credit, or college courses before graduation. The framework also includes Work-Based Learning, Industry Certification and the Seal of Biliteracy.

“This is the first time this will be an offering for BVSD students via our concurrent enrollment (college credit) offerings with Front Range, and we’re thrilled to make this available for our students at all BVSD high schools,” said Lynette Welk, BVSD postsecondary success coordinator. 

The best part is these college courses come at no cost to BVSD students and families.

“The program is tuition-free because the courses are a combination of BVSD high school courses and FRCC courses which are offered as part of BVSD’s existing secondary education options,” says Welk. “Often these courses can be taken right at their own high school, with some being offered on FRCC campuses.”

Students are able to complete a majority of their credits directly through offerings from BVSD, however 15 credits must be completed directly through Front Range Community College. FRCC has three campus locations in Boulder County, Larimer and Westminster.

The associate degree and the corresponding course credits from FRCC are accepted at most in-state public universities, colleges and institutions and can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree. Students can actually earn their associate degree before their high school diploma as FRCC spring graduations occur prior to BVSD graduations.

The most popular option for most high school students is to pursue courses that apply toward a general associate of arts degree, which would apply to most future fields of study. They also can  take specialty courses for those that want to earn a degree with a specific designation.

“Our advice to students is to get started. Even if you don’t know what career path you want to take, or what you intend to major in if you plan to go to college, take some college credit courses and see what interests you,” said Welk. 

Welk’s advice for parents is similar, “students are never too young to start planning for something like this. If this is something that is of interest to your student, encourage them to talk to their counselors for more information and the options available through their high school.”

Review a list of requirements and options for associate degree completion at BVSD on the College Before Graduation webpage, along with an example pathway PDF.

BVSD is hosting the following upcoming events in the spring for students and families to learn more about the associate degree program and other concurrent enrollment options for high school students, including the ASCENT program which is a program that provides tuition for the first year of college (after graduation) at either Front Range Community College or Metropolitan State University Denver.

  • ASCENT Student Eligibility and Celebration
    Thursday, March 14⋅5:30 – 6:30 p.m. 
    BVSD Education Center, 6500 Arapahoe Road, Boulder, CO           
  • Associate Degree Launch Celebration / 8th and 9th Grade ASCENT Open House
    Monday, April 15⋅5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
    BVSD Education Center, 6500 Arapahoe Road, Boulder, CO  

Learn more college courses before graduation at BVSD on the College Before Graduation website and explore all of the Grad Plus program offerings available to BVSD high school students on the BVSD Grad Plus website.


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