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Rural Oregon District Adds Fifth Year of High School, Scholarship Program

Students in rural Gaston County, Ore., can enroll in a fifth year of high school and earn funds for higher education through a new dual-enrollment program, according to a recent story in The Oregonian. 

The Extended Campus-Dual Credit Program allows students to take up to 15 credits through a state university or community college while enrolled in a fifth year at the county's secondary school. That allows the district to receive per-pupil funds from the state, which will be funneled into scholarships for participating students. Students will not take classes at the high school or receive their high school diploma until they finish the "fifth year," which is the first year of their college courses.

Rural students, although they tend to outperform peers in urban areas, are less likely to attend college. One recent study found that 64 percent of rural students pursue higher education, compared to 70 percent of their metro-area peers.

The Extended Campus program, which could provide students with nearly $4,000 a year in tuition as well as $600 for books, is meant to encourage more students to attend college.  Currently, less than 40 percent of the district's seniors attend a university after graduation according to another article in The Oregonian.

A state bill engendered the program, which some districts adopted during the 2006-07 school year.  According to The Oregonian, the goal of the law is to "create a seamless education system for students" that provides more options for those who want to continue their education. District officials expect about a half dozen students will take advantage of the program this year.

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