Students saving money on college with dual enrollment

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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

With tuition at universities on the rise, many high school students are looking for ways to cut costs.

One way is to earn an associate degree while earning a high school diploma.

Eighteen-year-old Jessica Solis is about to graduate from college before she's handed her high school diploma.

"Two weeks before," Solis said.

All thanks to the dual enrollment program where she took high school and college classes at the same time, and ACE Plus, a scholarship-based program that helps under-represented college-bound students.

“It makes me not only feel accomplished, but it also makes me feel like I can be an advocate for the different programs that go on in community colleges and really be that role model for kids my age that don't necessarily think that they can go to college," Solis said.

She said at one point, she didn't even think she could go to college.

“My parents didn't finish college, neither did my brothers, so I will be the first,” she said. “I wanted to make that story for me possible rather than having my background influence me."

Marina Giovannini with Chandler-Gilbert Community College said it's a less expensive route for students to get college credit because their textbooks are covered and tuition is cheaper than going to a university.

“And students who also participate in dual enrollment are three and a half times more likely to complete a degree, Giovannini said.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College isn't the only college that offers dual enrollment. Rio Salado has a record number of high school students getting their associate degrees while still in high school. This year they report 38 graduates.

Solis is on schedule to graduate from Chandler-Gilbert Community College May 15.

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