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Northam signs legislation creating tuition-free community college for low, middle-income students

‘Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back’ initiative will enable an estimated 36,000 Virginians to earn degrees in high-demand fields, Northam says.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Monday creating his signature “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program, which makes tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. 

The G3 program includes $36 million to cover tuition, fees, and books and provide wraparound support for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions.

“Building an equitable and inclusive economy is more important than ever as we emerge from the pandemic,” Northam said in a release. “The G3 program will connect thousands of Virginians with the skills, training, and resources they need to secure jobs in high-demand fields and support themselves and their families—all without being forced to shoulder mountains of student debt." 

According to the governor’s office, the new initiative targets industries such as health care, information technology, manufacturing and skilled trades, public safety and early childhood education.

Students who qualify for a full federal Pell grant and enroll as full-time students will receive student-support incentive grants on a semester basis. These grants will be in an amount up to $900 per semester and up to $450 per summer term, Northam said. 

Participating institutions will receive a performance payment for every eligible student receiving a student-support incentive grant that successfully completes 30 credit hours, and an additional performance payment when the student earns an associate degree.

“With increased financial stress due to the pandemic, we are seeing more middle- and low-income Virginians delay looking for new job opportunities,” Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said. “The G3 program provides critical funding to ensure students are equipped to complete the training that will enable them [to] enter and excel in high-need fields.”

Initial eligibility for the G3 program is determined through the submission of applications for federal and state student financial aid, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

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