Snead State, Department of Postsecondary Education Announce New Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program

6/4/2014

Opportunities for high school students interested in career technical fields were unveiled Thursday, May 29, at a special press conference hosted by the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education and Snead State Community College.

The approval of the Legislature of the new Alabama Future Workforce Initiative creates a $10 million scholarship program for high school students to participate in career-technical dual enrollment programs in the Alabama Community College System.

The individuals and businesses that donate to the scholarship program will receive a state income tax credit of up to 50 percent of their total contribution. Donating businesses or individuals are allowed to direct up to 80 percent of any contribution to a specific career-technical dual enrollment program or course at any two-year institution. The remaining 20 percent will be allocated at the discretion of the Department of Postsecondary Education.

“We will now be able to significantly expand and accelerate the education and training of high school students for the high-demand, high-wage jobs in our state.  We know this program will be a success because of the partnership and cooperation that we share with K-12,” said Terry Waters, Executive Director of Economic and Workforce Development with the Alabama Community College System.

Students enrolled in dual enrollment programs have the opportunity to earn both high school and college credit concurrently. With the certifications and degree options available through the career technical programs, students could be certified in a career technical field by the time they graduate high school.

In 2013, only 2,100 students participated in Alabama's career-tech dual enrollment scholarship program just 6.7 percent of the 31,500 students eligible. This was largely due to a lack of funding. Even with this program many students, parents and caregivers will still be partially responsible for tuition and other costs related to taking dual enrollment classes.

“We applaud these legislators…for including in the FY15 Education Trust Fund Budget a new $5 million line item appropriation for the career-tech dual enrollment program and for enacting the Alabama Future Workforce Initiative that potentially could add significant additional funding,” said Mr. Waters.

Alabama House District 29 Representative Becky Nordgren, a Snead State alumna, said, “The Alabama Future Workforce Initiative has the potential to fill unmet workforce needs. Without qualified employees to fill these workforce needs, our state’s hard-earned economic progress could be lost,” said Rep. Nordgren. “In other states that have implemented similar programs, the dropout rates have plummeted, and the employment rates has risen.”
 
Sponsors hope that with an additional $10 million in scholarship funds, 9,542 new students could participate in the program.

Snead State offers dual enrollment career tech programs in Business Management, Computer Science Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Office Administration, Child Development, and Nursing Assistant. The College partners with local businesses and industries to provide internships for career technical students, so they earn practical training that enhances their learning.

“We have used over a dozen IT interns from Snead. They are motivated and want to learn. They are talented workers who want to stay in our area,” said Kim Bunch, the Director of Information Technology for Marshall Medical Centers. “We couldn’t ask for a better source of quality interns than Snead State.”

Twin brothers Cody and Riley Dennis were dual enrollment students while attending Arab High School. They studied Computer Science Technology and earned their short-term certificates in 2011, when they graduated high school. They enrolled full-time at SSCC to earn Associate degrees in Computer Science Technology. They both serve as IT Technicians for Arab City School System.

“So many opportunities opened up for me because of dual enrollment. With the opportunity to enroll in the dual enrollment program, I saw a shining moment to excel. When I graduated from high school, I had already taken a large step forward in my career,” said Cody Dennis.

“Dual enrollment gave me an opportunity to change my life,” said Riley Dennis. “Because of dual enrollment, I was not an onlooker watching my dreams go by. When I was younger, I spent time breaking computers just so I could learn how to fix them. I definitely do more fixing now than breaking. Being a dual enrollment student at Snead and learning from the Computer Science instructors prepared me for the workforce more than I hoped for.”

“Our challenge and mission here at Snead is to be thought of more often as a college with necessary career technical programs, and our goal is to add to the partnerships we already have as we grow. We have committed to help students stay enrolled until they complete their Associate degree, and the fact that we can now partner with business and industry to increase completion rates – that’s success,” said Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley.

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