FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Fall River students praised their school’s early college program at a roundtable with Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday.

Students and teachers from B.M.C Durfee High School gathered to discuss the program with Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. The program allows Durfee students to take college courses at Bridgewater State University (BSU) and Bristol Community College (BCC) for free, and it even covers book and transportation expenses.

Carlos, a senior participating in the program, has taken marketing at BCC and then took journalism, social welfare, English, and introduction to psychology at BSU. He said he joined the program because he realized he would reap the benefits for years to come.

“The reason why I’m happy I joined is because of the relationships I was able to form with the staff and the school,” Carlos added.

After high school, Carlos will attend BSU on a full ride and major in marketing.

Another student said her health course confirmed her desire to become a nurse. She said she’s taken both AP and early college courses, and feels the early college courses have been more interesting.

Baker expressed support for the program, saying it’s not only a cost-saving strategy for students, but also an opportunity to find their calling.

“Frankly, one of the things I like about the early college program generally is it gives kids a chance to see how things fit, not just with the schools that are participating in this program, but also with the whole idea of ‘what I’m interested in’ and ‘what I might want to do with all of it,’” Baker said.

Students in the program take the college-level courses together, which are tailored for Durfee students. Students can enroll in up to eight college courses that count toward both their high school and college degrees.

Participants save an average of $8,000 toward their college degree, according to the school’s website.

Principal Matthew Desmarais said there is a pending pilot program with UMass Dartmouth that will begin in the fall.