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LETU and LISD Announce Early College Partnership for Aviation


LeTourneau University and Longview Independent School District announced today a new partnership to lower the cost of a private college education for qualifying Longview High School students.

Longview's incoming 9th grade students this fall will be able to attend college classes at LETU free of charge, as part of LISD's new Early College High School, which will provide the costs of their tuition, textbooks and transportation to the university campus. The program will expand each year to include sophomore, junior and senior students.

Longview High School is one of 44 schools this spring to receive the Texas Education Agency designation as an Early College High School. It is the only ECHS in Gregg County. Texas has designated 154 Early College High Schools across the state.

High school students in Longview's ECHS program can complete up to 60 college credit hours on a direct pathway toward a degree. Typical dual-credit programs offer 12 to 30 hours of college credit and generally are not directly connected to a degree plan.
LETU and LISD have streamlined a pathway for students interested in aviation to work toward a bachelor of aviation management, with other programs also being discussed for the future.

To qualify for the ECHS program, the students must have scored well on the math and English portions of the STAAR test and have selected their appropriate career path endorsement. ECHS has two parameters. Students must be on a track to finish an associate degree, and it has to be free to the student. The school districts pay for it. They have to be able to partner with the educational institution that provides the highest level of education they can get at the most reasonable cost.

"Increasing the affordability for local students to attend LeTourneau University has been one of our goals," said LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford. "Depending on the academic program, a student could save as much as $50,000 in college-related expenses by participating in this Early College High School program."

This partnership initiative was made possible, indirectly, by House Bill 5, which requires that incoming 9th grade students select a vocational interest endorsement when they enter high school.

"For the students, this program provides another great benefit, because they would not be considered transfer students, but would be eligible for more lucrative freshmen scholarships when they attend LETU immediately after high school," said LETU Vice President for Enrollment Services Dr. Terry Dale Cruse. LETU identifies transfer students as those who have completed up to 12 hours of college credits after graduating from high school.

Students start out slowly, taking 3 to 6 college hours their first year, then ramping up to 18 to 30 hours of college courses in their sophomore, junior and senior years. All of the courses they will take will apply toward a degree, so the student won't waste time taking courses that they don't need.

"How many high school students get the opportunity to go to a top-notch aviation program like ours, located at an airport in a facility where there are airplanes, at no cost to them or their families?" Cruse said.

Not only does it makes college more affordable, but it gives students an opportunity to find out earlier about career opportunities.
The state says that all students have to choose an endorsement. Each district can choose their entrance requirements. At Longview, all students who meet the entrance qualifications by scoring well on State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test, can be invited to participate in this program.

"This program identifies talented and promising students in the 9th grade, connects them with a vocational interest of their passion, an endorsement, and partners the Early College High School and the institution of higher education, like LeTourneau University," said LISD Superintendent Dr. James E. Wilcox. "It creates a roadmap of success for that student, in a structured, nurturing environment with a built-in support system."

LETU announced a similar dual-credit program last fall with Pine Tree ISD students interested in pursuing a bachelor of nursing degree.

LeTourneau University is a comprehensive institution of Christ-centered higher education where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community. LETU offers a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in aviation, arts & sciences, business, education, engineering and nursing. Around 1,300 students study at LETU's main campus in Longview, Texas. LETU also offers a robust suite of online programs, as well as hybrid programs in Dallas and Houston. Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life's work as a holy calling with eternal impact. For additional information, visit www.letu.edu.

Longview ISD is a diverse district with about 8,600 students and 1,400 staff members. The school district believes in excellence for all, one child at a time. With a high focus on academic achievement, the district believes in building partnerships within the community to support its seven elementary schools, three middle schools and one high school. Students benefit from programs from the Montessori schools to the International Baccalaureate program. LISD is the only district to receive the Early College High School designation in Gregg County.

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