Governor Charlie Baker met with students and teachers at Marlborough High School today to hear about students\u2019 experiences taking college-level classes to prepare for college, while earning college credits for free before graduating high school. Marlborough High School has nearly 100 students taking college-level courses.\n\n\t\t\t\u201cIncreasing the number of students participating in early college courses will benefit cities and towns across the Commonwealth,\u201d said Governor Baker. \u201cExposing high school students to college-level material will better prepare them for their careers after graduation and make higher education more affordable.\u201d\n\n\t\t\t\u201cEarly college programs are an important tool for combining traditional high school courses with an opportunity to earn college credit at a local community college,\u201d said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, who toured Mt. Wachusett Community College\u2019s Early College Program in late September. \u201cWe look forward to seeing more and more Massachusetts students participate in early college classes and take advantage of the opportunity to make college more affordable.\u201d\n\n\t\t\tDuring the past few weeks, Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito visited a handful of early college programs in different parts of the state to highlight the Baker-Polito Administration\u2019s commitment to expanding early college opportunities, as well as hear from students about the advantages of taking college classes before graduating from high school.\n\n\t\t\t\u201cThe Baker-Polito Administration is committed to significantly increasing the number of students enrolled in designated early college programs across the Commonwealth,\u201d Education Secretary James Peyser said.\n\n\t\t\tEarly college programs combine traditional high school classes with an opportunity to take college-level courses at a local college, typically in a particular career pathway such as STEM. Successful early college programs make college more accessible to students by giving them an opportunity to earn college credits, at no cost to them, while still in high school. Early College programs have also been found to boost college completion rates for low-income students, minorities, and first-generation college-goers. Currently, there are 2,400 Massachusetts students in an early college program -\u00a0 55 percent of whom are low-income -\u00a0 at 27 programs throughout the Commonwealth.\n\n\t\t\t\u201cThe Early College program at Marlborough High School is the launch that many of our students need to see themselves as successful in college,\u201d Marlborough Superintendent Maureen Greulich said. \u201cWe are pleased to be able to offer these opportunities in conjunction with meaningful internship experiences and career pathway options. As always, we are grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their support of our innovative programs.\u201d\n\n\t\t\tThe Board of Higher Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are currently reviewing applications from high schools and community colleges to become \u201cdesignated\u201d early college programs. The boards received 34 applications from high schools and community colleges around the state. In order to be designated, early college programs must meet certain criteria established by the two boards, including free to students.\n\n\t\t\tThrough the designation process, the Departments of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education are asking K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities to jointly design models. During Fiscal Year 17, the Baker-Polito Administration committed nearly $1.2 million to support development of early college programs through grants from the Department of Higher Education.\n\n\t\t\tThe boards will announce designations to early college programs early next year, with the goal of enrolling students in designated programs in the 2018-2019 academic year.\n\n\t\t\tFor more photos, click here.