January 24, 2007
Virginia lawmakers are trying to get more residents to pursue higher education in a way that saves students, and the state, money.
Tuesday night, the House of Delegates' Education Subcommittee overwhelming passed a bill, dubbed the Community Grant Transfer Program, which would allow students who transfer from community colleges to a four year institution to continue to pay the same rate they did at the community college.
To qualify for the grant, the student must have completed their associate degree with, at least, a 3.0 cumulative GPA, have applied for financial aid, and have a financial need of 150% of the state's or their locality's median income.
If the student meets these requirements, then the state will make up the difference in the tuition, thereby paying the colleges the same amount, but saving money for the student, and, in the end, the state.
"This bill would encourage students to spend the first two years at a community college, which saves the state an enormous amount of money, compared with the students' going to a four year college for the first two years," explained Piedmont Virginia Community College President Frank Friedman. "The idea is, the state will save all that money and then put it back into the further education of those students."
Community colleges across the state have been dealing with an increase in enrollment since students were guaranteed a spot at four year schools, but Friedman says he is encouraged, not daunted, by the influx of students, such bills would undoubtedly cause.
Friedman cited creative ways of expanding classes with online or off-site courses. He said PVCC follows the motto, that, "If a student is ready, we will be ready for them."
The Community College Transfer Grant Program is sponsored by Republican Delegate Vince Callahan of Fairfax, and would go into effect immediately.