Earlier this year, the Idaho State Board of Education unanimously passed a proposal allowing seniors at public high schools to directly enroll in the state’s public colleges and universities upon graduation. The initiative is part of an effort to increase the percentage of Idaho’s young adults with postsecondary degrees to 60 by 2020.
The proposal was implemented this fall, and this week, Idaho’s 20,171 graduating seniors received their acceptance letters to some, or all, of the state’s higher education institutions for fall 2016. Seniors with a 3.0 GPA were automatically accepted to one of the state’s eight public colleges. Those with a GPA lower than a 3.0 or who had adequate math and reading scores on the ACT or SAT were admitted to institutions with open enrollment and two-year colleges.
All students were required to submit an application to the institution of their choice and pay an application fee; however, thanks to the board’s $230,620 contribution, students who enroll will be reimbursed by way of a deduction on their first tuition bill.
The Lewiston Tribune in Moscow, Idaho, estimated that more than 8,700 of Idaho’s high school seniors have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and qualified for direct enrollment to state schools such as the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and Boise State University, but in the past, many students have chosen not to enroll. Last year, for example, only about half of all graduating high school students enrolled in one of Idaho’s two- or four-year institutions, and about 18 percent of those students enrolled out of state. Idaho continually struggles with enrollment and has one of the lowest postsecondary enrollment rates in the country.
The initiative was largely the idea of University of Idaho (UI) President Chuck Staben, who in January suggested utilizing direct enrollment to UI to increase its student body. By June, the board had developed the statewide proposal.
Proponents of the initiative hope it will encourage high school students who may have been undecided about college to reconsider, according to Blake Youde, Idaho State Board of Education spokesperson.
In a statement, Youde said that the major priority of the initiative is to show students who may be “on the fence or think they’re not college material” that they are.