Gov. Kim Reynolds praised the increase in the number of dual enrolled students in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Education released its Annual Condition of Iowa’s Community Colleges report on Thursday.

The report shows 49,868 students earned college credit while still in high school in academic year 2016-17. That number is a 4.1 percent increase from the previous academic year. In total, dual enrollment has increased about 137 percent over the past 13 years.

Dual enrollment has many benefits. It introduces high school students to the higher expectations of college-level courses. It also reduces the amount of debt a student may incur by reducing the length of time spent in a college or university.

Iowa currently leads the nation in dual enrollment. At least 48 states have dual enrollment policies.