Northam proposes $111M for undergrad financial aid
$4.3B in stimulus funds to be allocated during August special session
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he wants to designate $111 million in federal aid to financial aid for undergraduate students: $100 million for public higher education institutions through the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia and $11 million for private institutions eligible for SCHEV’s Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant program.
The General Assembly will meet Aug. 2 for a special session to allocate $4.3 billion in federal aid that the state received through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March.
“The economic uncertainty of this pandemic has led many to question whether a college degree was still an affordable reality,” Northam said in a statement. “Our administration has worked hard to make higher education accessible to every Virginian, and this targeted investment is a significant stride towards that goal.”
Northam’s proposal also commits $10 million to enhance the Online Virginia Network, which facilitates online coursework and degrees from George Mason University, Old Dominion University, James Madison University and community colleges, according to the news release.
Virginia colleges and universities are directly receiving $833 million in federal funds through the American Rescue Plan’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III. For public and private nonprofit institutions, at least half of the institution’s allocation must be used to make emergency financial aid grants to students, and the remainder can be used for institutional purposes, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Northam has previously proposed spending $353 million of the American Rescue Plan funds on small business and tourism industry relief and $700 million on expanding broadband access. He also proposed using $250 million to improve ventilation in public schools and $411.5 million to improve water systems. On Tuesday, he proposed designating $936 million to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund and to upgrading the Virginia Employment Commission. He also has proposed allocating $485.2 million toward behavioral health, including money to reduce severe staffing shortages at state public mental hospitals.