Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced his proposed budget will include $145 million over two years to offer free community college tuition low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields.
The “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program, would 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,” Northam (D) said in a statement. “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 will target key industries including health care, information technology, skilled trades, public safety and early childhood education, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“With Virginia’s record low unemployment rate, businesses are hungry for skilled talent,” Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy said in a statement. “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.”
The program would require participants to sign a “community engagement agreement” and complete two hours of work experience, community service or public service for every credit hour enrolled, according to the news release.
“With rising tuition costs, many Virginians are opting out of higher education,” Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said in a statement. “The G3 program provides affordable, accessible workforce pathways that will prepare the Commonwealth’s students for the growing number of high need jobs that do not require a four-year degree.”
Northam will address the joint money committees on Tuesday, Dec. 17 to share the full details of his budget plan, according to the news release.