Hundreds of high school students in the Allentown School District are getting head starts on their college careers – and getting a good bargain at that – with help from the district, Lehigh Carbon Community College and the PPL Foundation.

This fall, 240 Allentown high school students are enrolled in LCCC courses as part of a dual enrollment program funded with a $10,000 grant from the PPL Foundation to the LCCC Foundation.  The grant was awarded as part of $2 million given annually by the PPL Foundation to nonprofit organizations to improve education, develop future workers and revitalize communities.

The grant funds tuition for juniors and seniors who are from low-income families and attend Allen High School, Dieruff High School or Building 21.

Not only is it helping students save money on their college education, it’s also giving them a head start on transitioning to the next level of their education.

“For many of them, it’s giving a jump start,” said Amanda Riggle, an English teacher in Allentown School District who teaches dual enrollment courses. “They won’t have to pay for as many courses now, and when they’re finished, they may only have three years of college to pay for instead of four or five.”

The program benefits the college as well.

“This grant allows us to serve a portion of the community that we typically may not be able to,” said Jennifer Aquila, director of High School Connections at LCCC. “And although the financial aspect is important, taking these courses gives students confidence that they can be successful taking college courses and eventually pursue a degree.”

Students are able to take most of the classes at the high school building. Others may choose to attend classes at the college or participate online.

The experience helps them learn the dynamics of a college classroom before they go to college and helps with their adjustment when they move on from high school. In addition, it allows them to potentially shorten the time they spend at college, allowing them to get into the workforce sooner. The program also helps students narrow down their career interests.

“PPL understands that education is critical to success,” said Carol Obando-Derstine, regional affairs director for PPL Electric Utilities in the Lehigh Valley.  “We are committed to helping area students pursue their dreams of higher education while still in high school as a way to improve themselves, their families and neighborhoods.”

A wide range of courses is available, including science, English, math, social studies, and electives such as sociology, foreign languages and computer courses.

LCCC makes dual enrollment courses available to students in Carbon, Lehigh and Schuylkill counties. For more information on the program, visit the college’s website.