NEW RIVER VALLEY, Va. (WFXR) — Last year, the General Assembly approved funding that would be set up to pay most, if not all of the expenses taken by low-to-middle-income community college students who go into an associate-degree program that leads to a skill in a high-demand field.
The fund was the G3 fund, the three G’s standing for Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back, but before it could be put into effect in the budget, the COVID-19 pandemic caused for funds not to be allocated.
Now, G3 is back in the General Assembly, and Gov. Ralph Northam is confident this time it will be put into effect.
The fund, if approved, could cover the expenses, in-full or partially, of thousands of low-and-middle-income community college students in Virginia.
“We want to provide opportunities for folks for training and supply folks for the workforce,” said Dr. Dean Sprinkle, President of Wytheville Community College.
Community college presidents like Sprinkle say this fund could fast-track filling slots in the skilled labor force.
“The need is clear,” Sprinkle said. “The Virginia Chamber of Commerce, in their blueprint Virginia plan, identified talent development as the number one concern of Virginia businesses. And so, the G3 feeds right into that.”
Free college is a notion that’s been in and out of the national spotlight for several years, and Sprinkle said the G3 fund isn’t necessarily “free.”
He said it’s an investment on the part of the Commonwealth, that those coming out of these programs for high-demand fields will make higher salaries and complete the Give Back portion of G3.
“Those folks are going to be contributing back to the welfare and the economy in Virginia by their taxes,” Sprinkle said.
There are currently two bills that would set up the G3 fund, one in the House and the other in the Senate.
Time will tell if the G3 will repeat last year’s decision and become a fund that could serve as a win-win for Virginia and its citizens.