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

Officials say this will help an estimated 36,000 students earn degrees in high-demand fields

Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation creating his signature “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program. (Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Virginia students may be eligible for free tuition at community colleges statewide thanks to a newly signed bill.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Monday for his “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3″ program, which makes tuition-free community college available to an estimated 36,000 low and middle-income students pursuing jobs in high-demand fields.

The program includes $36 million to cover tuition, fees and books to support eligible students at two-year public institutions in Virginia.

Northam made this possible by signing House Bill 2204 and Senate Bill 1405, which establishes and funds the G3 program. The bills had broad bipartisan support from the House and Senate.

“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,” said Northam. “Tuition-free community college was one of the key issues I ran on during my campaign for governor, and I am thrilled to be delivering on that promise.”

According to the governor’s office, students who qualify for a full federal Pell grant and enroll in community college full-time will get student-support incentive grants on a semesterly basis. The grants will equate up to $900 per semester and up to $450 per summer term.

Eligibility for the G3 program is determined by submitting an application for federal and state student financial aid, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

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Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.