Governor Northam’s $145 million proposed initiative could make community college free for students

If initiative passes, CVCC leaders say qualified students may be eligible by summer and fall 2020

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Madison Phillips wants to be an ultrasound tech and is currently taking prerequisite classes at Central Virginia Community College while she works.

“I’d have to spend a little less time at Red Lobster and little more time studying,” Phillips said.

Governor Ralph Northam wants to help students like Philips.

He recently unveiled a $145 million tuition-free community college program called, “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back,” also known as the G-3 initiative.

“That would definitely help a lot of students out here,” Philips said.

Low and middle-income students interested in going into healthcare, information technology or the skill-trade industry will receive a $1,000 grant per semester.

“The vast majority of our students sort of fit this bracket,” Chris Bryant, vice president for institutional advancement with CVCC, said.

Bryant says enrollment is down this year, which means employment for high-demand jobs are low as well.

“Our industry in Central Virginia have been telling us for years they don’t have enough folks to sort of fill their demand,” Bryant said.

School leaders say if the governor’s initiative passes in the budget process, they could see enrollment go back up.

“We’re going to expand our mechatronics program. We’re going into plumbing and the trades and constructions. So, we’re working very, very hard and diligently with our industry partners to identify what trades and skills are needed,” Bryant said.

This announcement couldn’t have come at a better time as students are taking their final exams.

“You could spend a lot less time worrying about how you’re going to pay this school and a lot more time and actually doing your studies and studying for what you want to do,” Philips said.

School leaders say if the initiative passes, students who qualify may be eligible for the program by summer and fall 2020.

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