The governor’s $145 million G3 Grant Program is a major initiative that could help thousands of Virginians access higher education and workforce training.
But it’s important to remember, it is not “free community college” for all.
The G3 plan announced by Governor Ralph Northam at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale campus December 12 is a targeted program that would help low-and-middle-income Virginians who seek training in the fields of healthcare, information technology and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education, and public safety.
Virginia employers need to fill jobs in those fields.
“This program would greatly reduce – if not eliminate – how much money students would spend out of their own pocket to pursue select pathways in high-demand fields,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois, who was on hand at NOVA for the announcement. “The governor’s plan also provides for textbook costs and other cost-of-living expenses that could help those who have to work while going to school; a reality for nearly all community college students.”
DuBois said Virginia’s Community Colleges have partnered with employers to transform selected G3 programs to put skills first and allow students to earn stackable completion certificates as they move through their training. This allows a student to start and stop (while working) without losing academic progress along the way to that associate degree.
The G3 Grant Program would be open to any Virginia resident who qualifies for in-state tuition and whose family income falls below an identified threshold. Eligible students may enroll in programs leading to FastForward short-term credentials, certificates, or associate degrees. To maintain eligibility for a certificate or degree program, the student must:
• Enroll in an eligible program
• Take a minimum of 6 credit hours each semester, or complete a FastForward short-term credential program
• Maintain a 2.0 GPA
• Complete a certificate in the first year
• Demonstrate progress toward completion of an associate degree
• Agree to volunteer for community service upon completion of the program
The G3 program would be a “last dollar” plan, meaning students enrolling in a qualifying certificate or degree program must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for the program. G3 funds would make up the difference between what financial aid pays for and the cost of tuition, fees, and books for the program.
The Governor’s office estimates that students enrolled in these programs gain 60% in wages, and double the amount of state taxes they pay. Healthcare graduates typically double their salaries.
“This proposal is historic in its scope,” said DuBois. “$145-million over the next two years is a major funding request and we’re encouraging people across Virginia to reach out to their state lawmakers to express their support for the G3 Grant Program.”
The governor’s office has produced an infographic that captures key features of the G3 proposal.
To access a downloadable PDF version of the infographic, click here.
To read the governor’s news release, click here.
To read Chancellor DuBois’ OpEd about the new G3 proposal, click here.
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