Category Archives: General

Tax Time! Benefits for Students

It’s officially tax season! Have you received a 1098-T form from Parkland and are wondering what to do with it? If you are a college student who files taxes, there’s a good chance you can benefit from one or more tax programs for students. Read on to find out how you can save some money (and maybe even get a bigger refund!)

There are two main types of tax benefits available to students: tax credits and deductions.

Tax credits reduce the amount of income tax you pay. If you are receiving a tax refund because you had excess funds taken out of a paycheck for taxes, an education credit can increase this refund. Alternatively, if you owe money for underpaid taxes, a credit can reduce or offset this balance. Tax credits are a great way to offset what you pay for school (including payments that you make with money borrowed as student loans). There are two education credits available to college students: the American Opportunity Credit (AOC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). The AOC is available for students who are in their first four years of college (at least half time), and the LLC is available to students who may not meet the qualifications for the AOC. Students who are part time, already have a degree, or who have already used four years of AOC may benefit from the LLC.

Deductions reduce your total income for the purposes of calculating your tax bill. If you don’t qualify to receive an education tax credit, you can deduct the amount of money you paid for school (again, including money that came from student loans) from your income, which in turn will reduce the amount of income taxes owed to the government. Deductions result in proportionately smaller tax savings than credits, but can still increase your refund.

Speaking of student loans, if you made any student loan payments last year–even if you were just paying the interest accruing on an unsubsidized loan–you may be eligible for the Student Loan Interest Deduction. This allows you to deduct the amount of student loan interest paid from your income, resulting in a lower tax bill. Your loan servicer (the company that collects your student loan payments) should provide you with a statement indicating the total loan interest you paid in 2016.

For more information about each of these benefits, as well as a list of all eligibility requirements, check out this article: www.nasfaa.org/2016_tax_year.

Are you a new tax filer? Learn how to file your own taxes with SALT. Parkland has partnered with SALT, a nonprofit organization that helps student take control of their personal finances. They have informational articles, videos, and even an entire course on how to file your taxes. Get your free account at www.saltmoney.org/parklandcollege.

[Julia Hawthorne is an advisor with Financial Aid and Veteran Services at Parkland College.]

 

Parkland, Lewis U.: New Flight Transfer Accord

Parkland College Aviation graduates have gained a new bachelor’s degree opportunity through Lewis University.

Representatives of Lewis University and the Institute of Aviation at Parkland College signed an articulation agreement Feb. 3 at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.

This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to continue their studies and complement their flight training in other aviation fields.

The agreement allows Parkland graduates the opportunity to transfer into one of Lewis University’s seven aviation undergraduate programs to complete a bachelor’s degree. These programs include Aviation Administration, Aviation and Aerospace technology, Aviation Maintenance Management, Air Traffic Control Management, Aviation Flight Management, Transportation Administration, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Dr. Stephany Schlachter, provost of Lewis University, said his school “welcomes graduates of Parkland College as they continue on their flight path to success.”

Lewis University has the oldest aviation program among universities in Illinois. It is the only aviation program in the state that has an airport on campus. The university also offers a graduate degree in Aviation and Transportation on campus and online.

 

New Flight Agreement: Trans States Airlines

Parkland College flight students will soon get a great new option for advancing their training toward commercial flying.

The Institute of Aviation at Parkland College will sign an agreement with Trans States Airlines, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, that would accept our qualified flight students into its Aviators Program.

Parkland will sign the agreement during a ceremony at the institute this Saturday (Feb. 25) at 11 a.m. Join us for this important event.

Created last June for aspiring commercial pilots, the Trans States Airlines Aviators Program is a long-term internship for student pilots enrolled professional pilot training programs. The program identifies promising pilots early on in their flight training and begins preparing them for the Trans States Airlines flight deck while they are still in school through immersive, real-world experiences.

Students completing the program are eligible for a $10,000 tuition reimbursement as well as any recruiting bonuses offered by Trans States. These funds can be used to offset the cost of earning their certified flight instructor (CFI) designation.

This new agreement will help create certified flight instructors for Parkland’s Institute of Aviation and pilots for Trans States. We will join a selected group of aviation programs that will have this partnership, which allows our current students a pathway to commercial flying. The idea is that students complete their certified instructor training with the Institute, and then they continue to work for the Institute until Airline Transport Pilot certification minimums are met but still are very involved with Trans States.

[Wendy Evans is the aviation recruiter for the Institute of Aviation at Parkland College.]

Racing Toward a Bright Future

Parkland graduate Kyle Bemount is going places, FAST! Bemount, who earned his associate’s degree in Industrial Technology in 2011, is making a name for himself, both in racing circles and through the efforts of his business, Bemount Performance. I recently caught up with him and we talked about his experiences at Parkland, including his role as a part-time instructor, in addition to his ventures outside of school.

 

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T: What did you study at Parkland?
K: I originally enrolled in the Industrial Technology program at Parkland in the fall of 2008, right after I got out of the Marine Corps. I wanted to do welding and fabricating and that sort of thing. I had some hands-on experience and liked it, so I wanted to further educate myself.

T:  Thank you for your service! Where did your degree in Industrial Technology lead you?
K: While I was earning that degree, I also worked pretty much full time at my stepdad’s shop, painting and fabricating. When I graduated, I used the tools I learned and kept heading in that direction. I had never really given motorsports a chance to reach out and grab me. Then, Parkland built the new facility, and I was here for a car show and thought maybe it was worth checking out. I scheduled a meeting with Jon (Ross, director of the automotive program) and he gave me all the information I needed. I liked what he had to say, so I decided to try for another degree in Automotive Motorsport technology.

T: Where did your interests outside of Parkland take you?
K: I finished the motorsport classes, and it was a year ago, almost to the day, that I made the decision to open my own business. I do have a passion for working on cars and making them go faster, and working on FRIENDS’ cars especially is what has led me to this! Last October, I moved to a shop in Champaign, at 4102 Colleen Drive off of Staley Road.

T: Did your Industrial Technology training come together with the auto training?
K: It all kind of pieced the puzzle together. You might have previous car experience or have a relationship with someone who taught you about cars, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I had it too; I was already into cars and I had a fast vehicle, but there were a lot of gaps. I would be in class with Jon going over wheels and tires or brakes and suspension or something, and I would think I knew it, but by the end of class, I’d be like, “I didn’t know ANYTHING about that!” Parkland’s instruction bridges a lot of gaps for people who haven’t been taught in a structured manner like a classroom environment. You aren’t going to get that know-how by working on one specific vehicle. Here, you’re taught that this is how they all work and the situation dictates which one you can use it on.

T: You get a good, broad understanding of why this works, and that can help you diagnose whatever rolls into your shop?
K: Exactly. You need to crawl before you can walk. A lot of times, I ran before I even walked! I went right into it and did it. I got lucky and made it work, but if someone asked me a generic question about it, I might know the answer. Now, I try to be more able to find you a basic answer.

T: Was your Marine Corps training related to mechanics at all?
K: In no way, shape or form! I was an infantry marine.

T: You were a ground pounder?
K: I did infantry and security work. I had an option to become a police officer when I got out, but I really didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do something I was really passionate about.

T: You’ve started Bemount Performance, and from that the race car came about?
K: I actually bought that car when I was still stationed in Okinawa. I had my mom go to Missouri and pick it up. I had it for months before I even saw it! I had it all through industrial tech school, all through my motorsport classes.

T: What car are we talking about here?
K: It’s a 2000 Trans Am with a WS6. It has undergone multiple surgeries to become what it is now! Every winter, it gets some new “go fast” parts. It’s a 4-way LS motor with a Garrett 5594 turbo. It’s a pretty quick car. It’s been as fast as 8.35 in the quarter mile, at 168 miles an hour.

T: Is it a pro stock drag car? What classification is it?
K: It drives on the road more than it is on the track, so it’s a street class.

T: What advice would you give someone interested in chasing the dream of opening their own business?
K: To be honest with you, it was totally terrifying. I went from having a 40-hour-a-week job that makes decent money and was very secure and we had a certain living standard, and we realized that it was all about to change. I had a good feeling about it and I had backing from a couple of friends, so I didn’t have that concern.

T: What do you think about a nontraditional student coming back to Parkland? What sort of advice would you give that person?
K: You can always come back to Parkland. I’ve wanted to come back and do the upholstery class. It’s not really a part of what I do, I consider myself a go-fast guy, but nevertheless it’s a part of the world that I know zero about and that bothers me. You’re never too good to come back and learn. Technology evolves. I’m always wanting to learn.

T: Where did you go to high school?
K: I went to Rantoul. I had a fantastic shop teacher named Bill Wiley. Mr. Wiley actually made me interested in automotive. He was hands down the best shop teacher ever. He was very straightforward, but not by the book at all. He helped me out a ton.

T: Do you to build race cars for other people?
K: I do turbo kits, exhaust work, plumbing work, brake kits, and brake lines. I do almost anything, even build motors. My business is almost 100 percent building race cars. When I was starting out, I was as nervous as I could be and I took in jobs that had nothing to do with performance, just because I had to pay bills. Now, I don’t take in a job that doesn’t at least spark my interest or is a specialty of mine in the performance world. I very much try to stay to my field. I don’t want someone bringing their hundred-thousand-dollar race car into my shop and seeing a minivan on one of my racks.

T: What you would like to add?
K: I can’t emphasize taking classes enough. I love helping people out. This past fall, we took nine students to the track for the first time and after they had run down the track, they were grinning from ear to ear. To bring nine new guys into the thing you love is big to me. I want to show students that this is the right way to do it. That’s the big payoff.

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[To get started finishing your degree, contact Tony Hooker with the Parkland College Adult Re-entry Center at ahooker@parkland.edu or 217/351-2462.]

Drunk Driving: Get the Facts

****This post has been edited to provide the most up-to-date information.***
FACT:   An estimated 32% of fatal car crashes involve an intoxicated driver or pedestrian. *

FACT: Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. **

FACT: On average, one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.*

Alcohol, drugs, and driving simply do not go together. Driving requires a person’s attentiveness and the ability to make quick decisions on the road, to react to changes in the environment and execute specific, often difficult maneuvers behind the wheel. When drinking alcohol, using drugs, or being distracted for any reason, driving becomes dangerous—and potentially lethal!

Consuming alcohol prior to driving greatly increases the risk of car accidents, highway injuries, and vehicular deaths. The greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the more likely a person is to be involved in an accident. When any amount of alcohol is consumed, many of the skills that safe driving requires—judgment, concentration, comprehension, coordination, visual acuity, and reaction time—become impaired.

Being convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can impact your life in ways you may not be aware of, including loss of employment, prevention of employment in certain jobs, higher insurance rates, serious financial setbacks, personal and family embarrassment, and possible incarceration.

Americans know the terrible consequences of drunk driving and are becoming more aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Drugged driving poses similar threats to public safety because drugs have adverse effects on judgment, reaction time, motor skills, and memory. When misused, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal drugs can impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Roadside Survey, more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications (11% tested positive for illegal drugs). In 2009, 18% of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug (illegal, prescription and/or over-the-counter).

*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
**Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
     Administration (SAMHSA)

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]