Owens Community College students can get a taste of the university experience through a new partnership with Heidelberg University in Tiffin.
Participating students would be enrolled at the public community college and at the private university simultaneously, earning credits at both, but for the cheaper Owens price.
The goal is for Owens students to begin a university education while earning their associate's degree at the college, and then transfer to Heidelberg and already have some credits there.
"It gives them an opportunity to basically try Heidelberg out at the community college cost," said Susan Stine, associate director of admission at Heidelberg. "We think once they do get into classes here, that they're really going to enjoy it and want to transfer here full time."
The discounted tuition is huge for students, said Tamara Williams, associate vice provost at Owens.
"The No. 1 benefit is the tuition rates," she said. "Students are able to take a class at Heidelberg and still utilize the tuition rate at Owens."
The discount is significant.
Owens tuition is $127.30 per credit hour, compared to Heidelberg's part-time rate of $595 at its main campus in Tiffin.
"More and more students are starting out at community colleges rather than going to four-year schools and this gives those students the opportunity, especially if they had wanted to go to a four-year institution but couldn't afford it," Ms. Stine said.
Owens students can take one three-credit course per semester at Heidelberg through the new partnership, which starts this spring but word is just getting out to students to enroll.
It is open for students in all fields of study and involves them attending campus at each institution.
Heidelberg's main campus in Tiffin is about 25 miles from Owens' Findlay campus.
The university also has a campus in Arrowhead Park in Maumee and Owens is soon opening its own learning center there. The college's main campus is in Perrysburg Township.
Participants will have student IDs at the college and university, and can use services such as the library or advisers at both.
"This is the first agreement where students will go physically to both college and the university, so it's unique in that way," Ms. Williams said.
Owens has other dual enrollment agreements, but those have students taking university courses online, she said.
Heidelberg has similar on-campus arrangements with Terra Community College in Fremont and North Central State College in Mansfield, Ms. Stine said.
The program will expand the relationship between Owens and Heidelberg, which goes back more than a decade with articulation agreements that make it easy to transfer from the college to the university.
"With this partnership we are expecting students to really utilize both institutions as far as being dually enrolled and we'll work closer together than we did in the past," Ms. Williams said.