ANNANDALE, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday his plans to funnel money into Virginia’s community colleges to make tuition at those schools free for students most in-need.
Northam’s proposed budget will include $145 million of the biennium to make community college tuition-free and more accessible to low- and middle-income students, the governor’s office announced in a news release.
The free tuition will cover students in high-demand fields such as health care, information technology, skilled trades, public safety and early childhood education.
Northam’s slogan for the initiative is “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” — or G3.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to get a good education and a good job, no matter who you are or how much money you have,” Northam said in the news release. “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 program would be one of the first in the country 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 federal Pell Grants and enroll full-time will receive a student support grant each semester.
The grants will be up to $1,000 per semester and $500 for a summer term.
Students need to sign a Community Engagement Agreement and complete two hours of work experience, community service or public service for every credit hour they are enrolled.
“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.”
Northam will address the Joint Money Committees on Dec. 17 to share the full details of his budget plan.