Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced more than $100 million in federal funding to make college dreams a reality for low- and middle-income families in Virginia.
The funding will go to the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia for financial aid to students attending public universities. Another $11 million will be awarded as financial aid to students attending private institutions, Northam said at Virginia Tech.
“Our Administration has worked hard to make higher education accessible to every Virginian, and this targeted investment is a significant stride towards that goal,” he said during the event.
The $100 million will come from the $7.2 billion that the state received through the American Rescue Plan Act. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed this trillion-dollar stimulus bill to help the country recover from the losses suffered during COVID-19.
‘Opportunities Should Be Open to Everyone’
Northam said investing in higher education has never been this important, adding that one in three Virginians applied for unemployment during the pandemic. By diverting federal funds toward financial aid, the state is trying to support low-income families who have been hit disproportionately hard.
“Not every good job requires a four-year degree, but most good, well-paid jobs require education or training,” he stated. “Those opportunities should be open to everyone, but not everyone can afford tuition, or books, or transportation or even childcare.”
The governor also requested all higher education institutions to set aside at least part of their allocation from the American Rescue Plan to pay for emergency financial aid grants to students for food, housing, transportation, and books.
The state will also spend $10 million to fund online higher education programs offered by the Online Virginia Network at George Mason University, Old Dominion University, James Madison University, and community colleges.