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News Release

Office of University Relations

Contact: Amanda Mowell

November 15, 2018

JOHNSON CITY – Building on strong histories of providing quality educational opportunities, East Tennessee State University and the Niswonger Foundation are partnering to provide online dual enrollment opportunities for high school students in East Tennessee and beyond. Through Niswonger Online, students can earn both high school and college credit at ETSU with application and qualifying course fees waived as part of memorandum of understanding between the two entities.

With this new partnership, which is aimed to support the state of Tennessee’s “Drive to ‘55” initiative, ETSU, through Niswonger Online, will provide an extensive inventory of college courses and career pathways. Participating students will not be required to pay an application fee to ETSU and those who meet eligibility requirements will be admitted as first-time freshmen.

“We at ETSU believe this partnership is a unique opportunity to address college affordability, access for many students who have not previously had dual enrollment course opportunities, and an aggressive strategy for supporting the state’s Drive to ‘55 initiative,’” said Dr. Bert Bach, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at ETSU. 

Dual enrollment students may also choose to participate in Buc Start, a predetermined set of course pathways that allow students to obtain up to 24 hours, or two semesters worth of college credit prior to entering college as a full-time student. There are over 12 pathway-focused course plans available to choose from such as digital media, health sciences and computing.

“Buc Start provides students with a pathway to get ahead, explore fields of study and start working toward their careers early,” said Dawn Bridwell, assistant director of Admissions.

Scholarship and grant opportunities make ETSU one of the most affordable dual enrollment institutions in the region. High school students dually-enrolled at ETSU through the Niswonger Foundation will not pay qualifying course fees. The Dual Enrollment Grant and the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship funded by the Tennessee Lottery are available to cover a portion of tuition costs, and high-achieving students will be eligible for ETSU scholarships to assist with additional courses.

“The Niswonger Foundation is focused on ensuring that all students have the opportunity to see post-secondary education and a fulfilling career as a goal for their lives,” said Dr. Nancy Dishner, Niswonger Foundation president and CEO. “While students across Tennessee can be served by this partnership, I am particularly proud that it can greatly benefit rural high schools and economically disadvantaged students and families.”

To learn more about dual enrollment opportunities at ETSU, visit or email [email protected]. For more information about the ETSU and Niswonger Foundation partnership, contact Dawn Bridwell at [email protected] or 423-439-6873.

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