BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - Broken Arrow Public Schools is starting a new program that will help high school students early as many as 30 college credit hours before they ever graduate from high school.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Janet Dunlop said giving high school students a head start will help them on their way to a college degree - with less debt.

The Early College High School program will allow students to take courses at Northeastern State University's BA campus. They have about 165 freshmen and sophomores enrolled for the first year. Students will take both high school and college-level courses at the NSUBA campus.

Dr. Dunlop said while earning college credit in high school is not new, these younger students will spend their entire day at the university. And many of them intend to be the first generation in their family to attend college. 

“This is a great opportunity for BA high school students to earn college credit while enjoying the outstanding facilities and services offered at NSU-Broken Arrow," said NSU President Dr. Steve Turner.

"And, upon the completion of their lower-level course work, we'd love to welcome them officially as NSU RiverHawks should they choose to pursue their four-year degree at NSUBA."

“It benefits our entire community when our students are prepared for careers in industries with lucrative jobs located right in our backyard,” said Dr. Dunlop. “A highly-educated workforce leads to thriving businesses which then continues to result in a thriving school district and community.”

Broken Arrow educators say research finds students who leave high school with 15 or more college credits are twice as likely to graduate with a four-year degree.