President Jim Shaeffer Talks “G3”
“It’s a game changer”
What if obtaining an associate’s degree and/or a certificate in a high-demand and high-value job was made more affordable? What if ESCC provided an affordable pathway into high wage jobs in high-demand and high-value jobs?
The answer to these “what if” questions is being addressed in the General Assembly this spring as one of Governor Ralph Northam’s budget priorities, a program called G3-Get skilled, Get a job, Give back.
G3 targets students from families making up to $100,000 a year and provides what we call a last-dollar program. This means to be eligible, students must fill out a federal aid form, known as FAFSA, and G3 will assist with tuition that is not covered by federal or other financial aid.
The G3 program actually has the possibility of especially benefiting our potential students on the Eastern Shore by reaching out to both our middle income families as well as those in poverty and our working poor. In my mind, what G3 represents is hope for our students who feel that a college degree and/or certificate is simply financially out of reach. With G3, students will have a pathway to completing degrees and certificates.
While G3 will benefit our students, it will also benefit our businesses and industries on the Eastern Shore. G3 focuses on delivering skilled individuals in five of the most critically-needed fields: Healthcare; Information Technology and Computer Science; Manufacturing and Skilled Trades; Early Childhood Education; and Public Safety. Each of these are needs on the Eastern Shore.
G3 actually has the potential to provide benefits for all of the Eastern Shore.
We know from studying wage records that graduates of programs in those fields saw wage gains of 60%. We also know that those graduates, with those bigger paychecks, double how much they pay in state income tax. So, in this case, Virginia would see a tangible return on its investment.
Who will benefit from the G3 program? Many of our students work two or more jobs so that they can afford tuition, books, and support their living expenses. G3 will support a single parent who is balancing a job and child care in addition going to school. G3 will support our veterans who need living expenses to supplement their hard-earned GI benefits. G3, simply put, will serve and positively impact a huge portion of the students we serve at ESCC.
G3 is a game changer. A game changer for our students, our businesses, and our industries. A game changer for Your Eastern Shore.
(Dr. Jim Shaeffer is the President of Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa)