Hillsborough high school students earn free college degree - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough high school students earn free college degree

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Just a few months into the new school year, it's already time to think about next year. Enrollment is underway for magnet schools in Hillsborough county. Applications will be accepted in several surrounding districts in January.

There are lots of choices this year. Hillsborough county has more than a dozen high school magnet programs and several others for middle school students.

"We have an engineering program. We have an arts program. We have a culinary program. We have a plethora of programs that really allow the student to get an edge," explained Hillsborough County Choice Communications Manager Terrie Dodson.

One of the newest is at Leto High School. Students at the Collegiate Academy there can earn high school diplomas and Associate of Arts degrees at the same time.

"You have to really focus because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity," said freshman Shania Rae Morales.

Morales is one of 44 students in the inaugural class. The school is looking for 100 new freshman to start in the fall of 2014.

Students say the workload is tough, but they know their hard work will pay off. Their parents do, too.

"He'll walk away with $18,000 of college education before finishing high school and it will cost me not one red penny," said parent Johnny Williams, Jr. "I think it's one of the greatest kept secrets of the education system."

Leto's Collegiate Academy is hosting an information session for parents on the morning of Dec. 5. The district will hold an expo for all its magnet programs on Dec. 13 at the Florida State Fairgrounds from 3 to 7:30 p.m.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 18. Anyone with questions can call the Choice Information Line at (813) 272- 4692 or visit the district's web site.

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