by BLISS ZECHMAN, KFBB
HELENA - Governor Steve Bullock made an announcement Thursday that will impact students for years to come.
At Helena High, the governor explained how a new program will help high school students afford college credit.
“Ready, everyone say one, two, free!” instructs a teacher at Helena High School.
Governor Bullock visited Helena High's welding class, where he told the students the college course they're currently enrolled in will be completely free.
"Access to college classes is available and it’s available today. Notwithstanding the fact of where you come from or who your family is, or how much money you make during the summer," said Bullock.
The One, Two, Free program will allow eligible high schoolers to take two college courses, six total credits, at no cost to the student.
"The opportunity these kids have to get a jump start on college education. We know in today's world we're not just a K-12 education. We need something post-secondary," said Jason Murgel, Dual Enrollment Counselor at Helena High.
The Montana University System is footing the bill. Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, says the program will cost universities about $1 million. He estimates it will save families statewide about $5 million annually.
"We think this will significantly boost enrollment and the savings will continue," said Christian.
Helena High student, Caleb Binfet, says he plans on using the program to boost his writing skills. Caleb is taking college literature.
The senior says he's happier the whole student body will benefit.
"I think that's really cool, but I think honestly the best part is that it gives other kids that benefit that aren't quite as lucky as me, they get the chance to do it," said Binfet.
Core subjects, like the writing-intensive course Caleb is in, will be offered. Also, alternative learning opportunities like metal fabrication and online classes are also an option.
"The strength, from my perspective, really comes from access for students to take college courses in the comfort and security of their high school campuses and see that they can succeed," said Bullock.
The governor says rigorous college courses delivered in high schools are proven to increase graduation rates, reduce post-secondary remediation, and decrease time and costs towards a degree.
The program starts immediately. Click here to learn how to enroll.