A federal “Gear-Up” grant is making it possible for high school students across the state of Montana to take two college credit courses for free starting this month. According to Montana University System Spokesman Brock Tessman it’s possible to take even more classes for some.

“The rate for dual enrollment was about $50 per credit hour,” Tessman said. “If you take that as a three credit class it is about $150 or so per course. We have a very simple waiver process for students who have financial needs. That allows them to actually take additional courses at no cost.”

The free courses will end up decreasing the cost of college for many that earn credits this way. Tessman says they expect the total amount covered by the grant to be quite high by the end of the year.

“Our estimation is that it will be about $1 million this year,” Tessman said. “We can’t know that for sure until we see how many students are taking these courses. In some ways we hope the price is a little bit higher because the goal is to get as many students signed up as possible, but our guess is about $1 million. I think last year we were up to 6,000 students taking dual enrollment courses across the state.”

Though not every high school has the same amount of dual-credit courses available yet, Tessman says students can take classes at all state two-year colleges and even online