Governor Ralph Northam today announced his proposed budget will include $145 million over the biennium to make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. The Governor’s “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program, will provide financial support to 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,” said Governor Northam. “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 is one of the first in the nation 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 full Federal Pell Grants and enroll full-time will receive a Student Support Incentive Grant on a semester basis. These grants will be in an amount up to $1,000 per semester and up to $500 per summer term. Each participating institution will receive a Performance Payment per eligible student receiving a Student Support Incentive Grant that successfully completes 30 credit hours and an additional Performance Payment when such a student earns an associate degree.

The initiative will target key industries, from health care and information technology to skilled trades, public safety, and early childhood education. Data show that on average, participants in these high-demand degree programs increase their wages by 60 percent upon program completion and double their individual state tax contributions.

Eastern Shore Community College President Jim Shaeffer applauded the Governor’s move:

“The announcement from Governor Northam initiating the G3 program, Get Skilled, Get a Job, and Give Back, is simply a game changer for the students and communities we serve.  G3 will provide that opportunity to those students who never felt that they could afford to go college to earn an associate’s degree. I love this program; at its core it provides hope for individuals who want to enhance their lives and the lives of their families by continuing their education.  This is huge for the Eastern Shore community and for ESCC.   Your Eastern Shore Community College is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities of the G3 program with the multiple programs we offer in health care, skilled trades, early childhood and more. I couldn’t agree more with Governor Northam, everyone deserves the opportunity to get a good education and G3 makes this dream a reality.”

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