Increasing the affordability for local students to attend LETU has long been one of our goals. For example, a few years ago, we announced our Future of East Texas Grant to lower costs and provide incentive for local students to come live on campus.
Last week, I signed a new partnership agreement with Longview Independent School District that will lower the cost of a LeTourneau University college education for qualifying Longview High School students.
Longview's incoming 9th grade students this fall may begin earning college credit hours from LETU, free of charge, since the school district pays the costs of tuition, textbooks and transportation, as part of LISD's Early College High School program. The program is made possibly, indirectly, by House Bill 5 that requires incoming high school students to select a vocational endorsement entering high school.
During four years of 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, accumulating up to 60 credit hours, or an associate degree.
The first direct degree pathway that LETU is offering is toward a degree in aviation management. Other programs are being discussed to announce in the future.
Depending on academic program, a student could save as much as $50,000 in college-related expenses by participating in Longview's ECHS program with LETU.
Longview ISD is one of only 154 school districts across the state that the Texas Education Agency has designated as an Early College High School. It is the only ECHS in Gregg County.
This program makes college more affordable, but also gives students an opportunity to find out earlier about career opportunities.
Students who enter this program can transition seamlessly into campus when they finish high school, qualifying for more lucrative freshmen scholarships, even though they will already have hours to classify as juniors. They would not be considered transfer students, who are identified as those who have completed up to 12 hours of college credits after having graduated from high school.
I want to thank LETU Dean of Aviation and Aeronautical Sciences Fred Ritchey, LETU Vice President for Enrollment Services Dr. Terry Cruse and our dual-enrollment coordinator Sharleen Hunt for their work in making this partnership a reality.
This partnership provides the opportunity for LISD students to take classes on our campus, similar to the opportunities we already provide home school students. And it is similar to the program we announced earlier in the year with Pine Tree ISD for students interested in our nursing program.
What a great way for high achieving students to experience one of the nation's leading Christian institutions first-hand.