More Local Institutions Announce Dual Enrollment Opportunities for High School Students

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - It's that time of year when college and career are top of mind for many young students making the transition into their next life chapter. But through dual enrollment programs more and more local institutions are giving students the chance start the process earlier than just a few months before they move that tassel and walk across the commencement stage.

J.F. Drake State Technical College in Huntsville is one of the most recent institutions to jump on the dual enrollment bandwagon.

"We have known that dual enrollment would be important for a number of years now and we've had funding come to us from the governor's office of workforce development."

John Reutter, Drake State's Director of Planning and Resource Development explains the demand and interest in dual enrollment has expanded tremendously in the last 3 years, alone.

"We are at the point now where we don't have enough funds to carry students who cannot afford to pay for college education while still in high school and yet we can offer the opportunities to do so."

Reutter says dual enrollment is becoming increasingly important to backfill talent leaving the workforce due to baby boom retirements. As we slowly climb from recession a higher number of workers are making the decision to retire.

"The industries need a rapid expansion of the workforce and the only way to do that is to accelerate the path people take through the educational systems to reach job readiness," Reutter contends.

Dual enrollment programs offer just that: a chance for students to earn college credit for coursework taken during their senior or junior years of high school.

Reutter says it's not unheard of in Alabama for students to graduate form high school and from a two-year associate degree college in the same year.

"We are looking forward to expanding that availability to high school students," says Reutter.

Snead State Community College in Boaz is among the most recent institutions to announce expanded dual enrollment opportunities.

New legislation allows local employers to donate funds for dual enrollment and receive tax credits for 50 percent; 80 percent of donations by businesses can be directed toward career training programs to meet the needs of the donor.

Students & Summer Jobs

Many students take a job in the summer after school lets out. If it's your first job it gives you a chance to learn about the working world. That includes taxes we pay to support the place where we live, our state and our nation. Here are eight things that students who take a summer job should know about taxes:

1.      Don't be surprised when your employer withholds taxes from your paychecks. That's how you pay your taxes when you're an employee. If you're self-employed, you may have to pay estimated taxes directly to the IRS on certain dates during the year. This is how our pay-as-you-go tax system works.

2.      As a new employee, you'll need to fill out a Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Your employer will use it to figure how much federal income tax to withhold from your pay. The IRS Withholding Calculator tool on can help you fill out the form. 

3.      Keep in mind that all tip income is taxable. If you get tips, you must keep a daily log so you can report them. You must report $20 or more in cash tips in any one month to your employer. And you must report all of your yearly tips on your tax return.

4.      Money you earn doing work for others is taxable. Some work you do may count as self-employment. This can include jobs like baby-sitting and lawn mowing. Keep good records of expenses related to your work. You may be able to deduct (subtract) those costs from your income on your tax return. A deduction may help lower your taxes. 

5.      If you're in ROTC, your active duty pay, such as pay you get for summer camp, is taxable. A subsistence allowance you get while in advanced training isn't taxable. 

6.      You may not earn enough from your summer job to owe income tax. But your employer usually must withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from your pay. If you're self-employed, you may have to pay them yourself. They count toward your coverage under the Social Security system. 

7.      If you're a newspaper carrier or distributor, special rules apply. If you meet certain conditions, you're considered self-employed. If you don't meet those conditions and are under age 18, you are usually exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

8.      You may not earn enough money from your summer job to be required to file a tax return. Even if that's true, you may still want to file. For example, if your employer withheld income tax from your pay, you'll have to file a return to get your taxes refunded. You can prepare and e-file your tax return for free using IRS Free File. It's available exclusively on

Opportunities From Toyota

Proving that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama has partnered to launch a new, innovative education-to-work initiative with Calhoun Community College to further enhance Alabama’s future work force for years to come.

The initiative, called the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program, is designed as an innovative manufacturing degree that will span five semesters of classroom instruction while providing paid, hands-on experience at world-class manufacturing facilities. Students will earn enough pay (starting at $13.55 per hour) to cover their educational expenses and the opportunity to graduate debt free. Graduates will hold an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Advanced Manufacturing degree.

The effort includes a collaborative known as the Alabama Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (AL FAME) and is designed to partner with area manufacturing companies that are interested in participating in the workforce development initiative.

The goal of the AMT program is to close the gap of unfilled skilled technician jobs in Alabama and across the country. “’Skilled technician’ is currently the #1 unfilled job opening in the U.S. according to the National Association of Manufacturers. As technology increases, so does the need for skilled technicians at our facility. The AMT program will create and maintain a qualified pipeline of skilled technicians by preparing students to be fully job ready for a multi- skilled maintenance position at the end of a two year program,” said Jim Bolte, president of Toyota Alabama. “This not only benefits Toyota, but helps to address the workforce needs of manufacturers regionally.”

Partnering with local community colleges and area manufacturers, Toyota has established AMT programs in 7 states with over 100 current students. This number is likely to double as new students begin the program this year.

Applications for the AMT program are now being accepted. The first group of AMT students will begin the work portion of the program in June and classes at Calhoun will begin in August. The multi-disciplinary curriculum includes courses in electricity, fluid power, mechanics, fabrication, robotics and problem solving. Students will attend classes two full days a week at Calhoun and work three full days a week at their sponsor company.

The program will emphasize attendance, initiative, diligence, verbal and written communication, interpersonal skills and professionalism.

“Manufacturing companies are seeking employees with the high level of experience and training offered by the AMT program,” said Scott Russo, maintenance manager at Toyota Alabama. “While not guaranteed a full-time job following graduation, graduates could be hired by their sponsor company, continue their education in engineering, technology or business, or pursue employment opportunities in the open job market.”

“Toyota has been a wonderful community partner for many years, and we are so very excited to have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the company to educate, train and prepare our students for these very high skilled, high wage advanced manufacturing jobs,” commented Calhoun President Dr. Marilyn Beck.

Prospective students must complete an application for admission to Calhoun Community College, as well as the AMT program application. Additional information and application forms are now available at

Students will be accepted based on academic success as measured through grades, class rank, math capabilities and the ability to work in a team and problem-solving environment.