COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A new law allows South Carolina's virtual education program to increase courses available to students, potentially saving school districts money.

The Education Department's virtual education director said Wednesday the program has focused on credit recovery, offering students who failed a class a chance to catch up online. Bradley Mitchell says the law approved last month broadens students' opportunities.

The law removed the cap that limited students to three credit hours per year through the program, and a total of 12 toward a high school diploma.

Mitchell says changes this year include more middle school offerings and partnerships with school districts to provide their students advanced courses.

State law still bars students from earning a diploma through the program available to public, private and home-schooled students on a first-come, first-served basis.