Governor’s proposal will make college more affordable for many

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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By Dan Lufkin

At Camp Community College, we have spent the nearly 50 years of our existence letting the public know that we offer affordable, accessible and quality postsecondary education. Soon, we also may be sharing news about a game-changing plan proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam that is being considered in the General Assembly, and for which we need your support.

This initiative, called G3: “Get a Skill, Get a Job, Give Back,” will help low- and middle-income state residents earn credentials, certificates and associate degrees in programs that result in jobs that are in high demand without incurring the debt that plagues so many students today.

Those enrolled in G3 will “give back” by signing a community engagement agreement to complete two hours of service per credit hour enrolled. The five eligible programs that fall under G3 are healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education, and public safety.

To qualify for G3, students will have to meet certain criteria, such as be eligible for in-state tuition, classify as low- to middle-income, and will be required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). G3 will provide “last-dollar” funding, which means it will make up the difference that financial aid does not pay for tuition, fees and books.

Equally important, students will be able to earn stackable credentials as they move along program pathways that are specially designed to be in alignment with local business needs. This will allow students to stop and later pick up where they left off in order to continue on their pathway to an associate degree. It also will allow Camp to help reduce the employment gap of 2.6 million jobs that will need to be filled in Virginia by the year 2026. These jobs, according to the Virginia Employment Commission, will require more education than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree.

G3 is not “free college.” It is a strategic approach that will benefit all Virginians. It will allow more people to work in high-demand fields making wages that will sustain their families while at the same time, fill the employment gaps in our communities in healthcare, manufacturing and public safety. We need skilled talent in order for our local businesses to function and compete. We cannot afford to have public safety services compromised by lack of skilled workers in our hospitals, emergency centers and police departments.

In addition, G3 is more than a student-success initiative; it is an investment in Virginia’s economy. The Virginia Community College System studied the wage records of former graduates of programs in the fields that would fall under G3 and found that these programs will boost the wages of graduates by 60 percent. And as our chancellor presented to the State Chamber of Commerce recently, healthcare graduates will double their salaries. And with larger paychecks, graduates will be paying double the amount of state income taxes, therefore stabilizing Virginia’s General Fund, which is how we pay for our schools, roads and first responders. What a win-win!

According to a statewide poll conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, 63 percent of Virginians are in favor of a proposal like the G3 initiative. And the State Board for Community Colleges adopted a resolution in support of the proposal. We need your support. Contact your state legislators and let them know that this is a priority. G3 will make a world of difference for everyone in our communities. We cannot afford to not make this investment for our students, our employers and our economy.

DR. DAN LUFKIN is president of Camp Community College. He can be reached at 569-6712 or