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High schoolers earning free associates degrees

Posted: 4:19 PM, Mar 10, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-10 21:58:46-05

Imagine getting a college degree without spending a dime for it!

It sounds like a pipe dream, but for some Colorado high schoolers, it is actually going to happen.

About 65 current Adams 12 8th graders will be the first to join a new program, “Pathways in Technology Early College High School,” or P-TECH .

“Students who have actually already applied to come to Northglenn High School as freshmen are all eligible,” said Kellie Lauth, an Adams 12 STEM coordinator.

The application process is rigorous, but if accepted, students like Julisa Acevedo will earn a free associates degree in applied sciences.

"The fact that there's a program like P-TECH that allows kids my age to get their associates degree for free is astounding,” said Acevedo.

Governor Hickenlooper signed the P-TECH bill into law last year, hoping to create a public-private partnership that would prepare Colorado kids for the workforce.

Lauth said it is no longer just about changing a student's academic trajectory, but changing their economic trajectory as well.

She said overwhelming students with debt is not a system we can sustain over time. 

“It really is all about connecting students not only to workforce, but preparing students to be instantly employable and to achieve that livable wage job going forward,” Lauth said.

Northglenn High School is the first school in the metro area to offer this program, but if all goes well, it won't be the last.

There is a family information night on March 22 at Northglenn High for students and their parents to learn more. Applications are due by March 31.

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