(RICHMOND) – The Virginia State Board for Community Colleges unanimously approved a resolution today endorsing Governor Ralph Northam’s “Get A Skill, Get a Job, Give Back” (G3) Initiative and calling on the General Assembly to adopt it.
The Governor’s G3 proposal is a carefully designed financial aid plan to make select community college programs in high-demand and high-value career fields (technology, healthcare, skilled trades, early childhood education, and public safety) more affordable to low- and middle-income Virginians.
“The G3 Initiative is an important step toward bringing more equity to higher education in Virginia,” said Dr. Susan Gooden, chair of the State Board. “Our Board works hard to keep community college tuition and fees affordable for Virginia families. However, we know that price and the cost of books represents only a fraction of the expense of going to college. Given the realities of today’s opportunities, when higher education is out of reach for a family, so too is the American Dream.”
Leading national experts say tuition, fees, and books typically account for only 20 percent of the cost to attend college. Further, two out of five Virginia households are within the ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) population, who work hard and earn more than the official federal poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living.
“I applaud G3’s focus on career fields where businesses are having a hard time finding trained and skilled people to hire,” said Ed Dalrymple, vice chair of the State Board. “As a businessman, I’ve experienced that challenge and it’s frustrating. It means that good-paying jobs are sitting empty, and it means that businesses are being held back and not as competitive as they could be.”
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce says that talent development is the top concern of businesses across the commonwealth, and addressing that concern is the number one action item in the Chamber’s Blueprint Virginia 2025 plan.
Those career fields G3 focuses on: technology, healthcare, skilled trades, early childhood education, and public safety typically lead to wage gains of 60% for enrolled students, and double what they pay in state income taxes. If enacted, G3 eligible programs would begin in the fall 2020 semester.
Nationally, at least twenty-three states, including Maryland, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky – and six of the nation’s ten states ranked highest for their economy and workforce – offer their residents opportunities to pursue community college programs at greatly reduced, and in some cases no, tuition costs.
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 280,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.