ALABAMA (WHNT) – Additional financial aid is on the way for high school students interested in getting college credit for high school courses.

The Alabama Community College System said an additional $5 million was included in the 2023 education budget passed by the Alabama State Legislature and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey. The extra money will go towards scholarships across all 24 community colleges for students pursuing career technical programs and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.

The increased funds came as a result of more students taking dual enrollment classes across the state. ACCS said enrollment in the program has increased by more than 65% since 2015 with 2,200 more students enrolled in fall 2021 than fall 2020 (16,462 vs 14,286).

Unlike AP honors classes, the student’s grade alone determines if they will receive college credit for the course. Students can take the classes at their local college (in-person or online), or through a college instructor traveling to their high school to teach.

And in some cases, students can graduate with an associate’s degree at the same time as they graduate with their high school diploma, saving them time and money. Students such as Austin High/Calhoun graduate Lucas Hasting, Benjamin Russell High School/Central Alabama Community College graduate Katelyn Henderson (who plans to transfer her credits to another higher-education institution) and Fairhope High School/Coastal Alabama Community College students Antonio Notarangelo and John Pizzotti (who have earned welding certifications and are heading straight into the workforce).

Henderson chose dual enrollment for its affordability, and ACCS stated community college classes are generally more than 50% cheaper compared to a public four-year university in Alabama. Similarly, CACC estimates Notarangelo and Pizzotti have saved around $7,000 in college tuition by getting their certifications during their high school career.

For those who need assistance, scholarships are available for Alabama’s dual enrollment program, covering the following:

  • 22 science classes
  • 18 computer science classes
  • 17 math classes
  • More than 450 career pathway classes

Scholarships are offered for two classes per student during the spring and fall semesters, and up to four classes during the summer if their high school district allows summer classes. The scholarships cover tuition, fees, and textbooks.

The extra $5 million for dual enrollment scholarships will be distributed across all 24 community colleges prior to the start of Alabama’s 2023 fiscal year in October, with each local college deciding how to use the funds.

To qualify, a student typically needs to have a minimum GPA of 2.5. For more information about dual enrollment scholarships, parents and students should contact their local community college. ACCS has a list of those institutions available online.