Governor Northam Unveils Tuition-Free Community College Program for Low- and Middle-Income Students
Governor Ralph Northam today announced his proposed budget will include $145 million over the biennium to make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. The Governor’s “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program, will provide financial support to cover tuition, fees, and books for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to get a good education and a good job, no matter who you are or how much money you have,” said Governor Northam. “This is an investment in equity and our economy—by helping Virginians get the skills they need, we’re building a world-class workforce while ensuring all Virginians can support themselves, their families, and their communities.”
The G3 program is one of the first in the nation to provide wraparound financial assistance to help students at the lowest income levels with expenses such as food, transportation, and childcare. Students who qualify for full Federal Pell Grants and enroll full-time will receive a Student Support Incentive Grant on a semester basis. These grants will be in an amount up to $1,000 per semester and up to $500 per summer term. Each participating institution will receive a Performance Payment per eligible student receiving a Student Support Incentive Grant that successfully completes 30 credit hours and an additional Performance Payment when such a student earns an associate degree.
The initiative will target key industries, from health care and information technology to skilled trades, public safety, and early childhood education. Data show that on average, participants in these high-demand degree programs increase their wages by 60 percent upon program completion and double their individual state tax contributions.
“With Virginia’s record low unemployment rate, businesses are hungry for skilled talent,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “The G3 program will help Virginia businesses of all sizes fill open jobs, connect Virginians with the necessary training and credentials to find good-paying work, and grow the Commonwealth’s economy.”
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