A dual enrollment program at a local community college is proving to be a big gamble on future student growth.
Last week Virginia Western announced it will offer a free dual enrollment to local high school students in Botetourt County, Craig County, Franklin County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, and Salem school divisions.
The goal is to get more high school students taking college level classes, making them better prepared after graduation.
But the program comes at a significant cost to the college.
"It's going to cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to make this happen out of our budget," said Virginia Western President Dr. Robert Sandel. "But we think we're going to recoup most of that if we have the growth that we anticipate."
That anticipated student body growth is significant, between 25 and 35 percent.
Sandel said they will re-evaluate the dual enrollment program at the end of each semester.
It is set to go into effect this fall.