Can I enroll in two colleges at once?

As a high school student, you may have taken advantage of dual enrollment: taking college courses while still in school. But did you know that dual enrollment has another meaning? It can refer to students who take classes at two colleges at the same time.

Taking classes at another school can help you graduate faster and, if you take classes at a community college, your courses may be cheaper.

Although dual enrollment is possible and beneficial, there are some caveats to keep in mind.

What is dual enrollment?

Dual enrollment, also known as co-enrollment or concurrent enrollment, occurs when you take classes at a college while you’re enrolled with another school. Most commonly, students take advantage of dual enrollment to complete classes at a community college while they’re enrolled as full-time students at a four-year school.

The credits you take at another school may transfer to your primary college, allowing you to get credit for those classes you completed.

You could take classes at a community college to fulfill core education requirements so you can graduate faster. Or, if you need to take remedial classes due to poor performance in your classes, taking them at a community college can help you stay on track and graduate on time. Whatever the case may be, dual enrollment can be a cost-effective way to further your education.

Taking community college classes during the summers and transferring your credits to a four-year school a tactic dubbed the “summer swirl” is growing in popularity. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, the percentage of “summer swirlers” increased by 10 percentage points over three years. And those who take part are more likely to complete their degrees than other students.

Colleges that allow dual enrollment

Many schools, both public and private colleges, allow concurrent enrollment. For example:

  • Belmont University: Belmont University allows concurrent enrollment, but students cannot complete no more than 18 credit hours at another school.
  • Florida Shines: Florida Shines is a program for students attending state colleges or universities within Florida. It allows students to take courses at any state school in the state as a transient student.
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Students can take classes at another University of Illinois campus or at Parkland College and transfer the credits to your primary school.
  • University of Oregon: At the University of Oregon, dual enrollment is a financial aid program. The program allows you to take classes at Lane Community College as you pursue a bachelor’s degree, which may be cheaper than the classes at the University of Oregon.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison: The University of Wisconsin-Madison allows students to take courses offered at other institutions to complement their current program.

How to take classes at two colleges at the same time

If you’re interested in dual enrollment, there are some steps you need to take:

1. Check school’s policies

Although many schools do allow concurrent enrollment, not all do, or they may have restrictions on what courses or how many credits are eligible for transfer. For instance, High Point University students who are majoring in chemistry can take classes at other four-year schools, but cannot take courses offered by community colleges.

Find out what restrictions are in place, paying particular attention to what courses are eligible for transfer, credit hour maximums and any department-specific rules.

2. Inquire about financial aid

If you’re using federal or school financial aid to pay for your education, including federal loans and grants, it’s important to understand how your primary school handles aid.

In general, students are only eligible for federal aid at one institution at a time, and you must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis.

However, you could qualify for aid during the fall or spring semesters from your primary school. If you intend to enroll in a summer semester, you could update your enrollment status and receive aid for the summer classes at a community college.

Be aware, your summer classes will still count toward the federal aid grant and borrowing maximums; for example, the maximum amount of Direct Subsidized Loans you can receive as a first-year student is $3,500 per year.

Important: Summer classes are eligible for federal aid and require you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). But what year of the FAFSA you need to complete varies by school; contact your summer school’s financial aid office for more information.

3. Set up consortium agreement

Most colleges and universities require you to apply for approval before enrolling in classes at another school. You typically need to complete a consortium agreement which outlines where you can take classes, what courses you take and how many credits you can complete. Make sure you have the approval of your primary school’s registrar office and your department head before enrolling.

Cover All of Your College Costs

Whether you pursue dual enrollment or not, College Ave can help you cover all of your college costs. Once you’ve exhausted federal aid and free money (like scholarships and grants), consider a private student loan for your education expenses.


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