Magazine article The Catalyst

President's Page

Magazine article The Catalyst

President's Page

Article excerpt

New legislation marks the first time that tuition assistance is available for noncredit programs at Virginia community colleges.

The New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Fund and Program, signed into law in March 2016 allocates state funds to establish a workforce training program targeted to increase industry certifications and occupational licenses. This new legislation is historical, as it marks for the first time in Virginia, that state funding is allocated to help offset tuition costs for noncredit programs.

The tuition assistance funding applies to high demand, credential-bearing noncredit programs. This legislation aligns well with the Governor McAuliffe's goals for building and sustaining Virginia's economic vitality. In recent years the Virginia Community College System has strengthened its alignment with these goals, through an emphasis on awarding industry credentials to support a competitive economy. Virginia's community colleges play a vital role in this effort.

How the tuition assistance funding works: In its simplest terms, the act requires the student to only pay for the first third of the tuition cost. Upon completion of the noncredit program, the state pays the second 1/3 of the tuition cost. And upon the student's attainment of the credential, the state pays the final 1/3 of tuition costs. In this way, colleges are "made whole" for their costs of running the program. Thus far, the tuition assistance has been very attractive to students. For example, a student that previously paid $600 for an A+ certification course, now pays just $200.

It is a "pay for performance" model, in that colleges will not receive the second or third % of the course tuition until the student completes the program and attains the industry credential. …

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