Community college students could complete their four-year university degree at two-year college prices under a recommendation approved today by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
The council backed a proposal from the Virginia Community College System that would expand an existing grant program to cover the difference between two-year tuition with that of a public four-year school. Students transferring to a private, nonprofit school would receive an award equal to the average charge of public institutions.
SCHEV estimates the proposal will cost an additional $8.8 million in the 2015 fiscal year and $10 million the following year.
The proposal was included in budget recommendations for the 2014-16 biennium that total about $381 million in new spending from the state General Fund for higher education.
The recommendations will be forwarded to outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell, who will introduce his budget to the General Assembly in December.
The community college proposal expands the Two-Year College Transfer Grant Program, which awards $1,000 a year to students who transfer after earning an associate’s degree with a 3.0 grade average. They can receive an additional $1,000 if they enroll in STEM or nursing programs.
The students also must show financial need, but the threshold was expanded this year to include more middle-income families.
The program established in 2007 has awarded nearly $3 million to more than 1,700 recipients, with $1.65 million appropriated for 2013-14.
SCHEV estimates that expanded program would require an additional appropriation of $8.8 million in fiscal 2015 and $10 million the following year.