Is Community College Free in Virginia?

Is Community College Free in Virginia?
Campus is the new alternative to online community college that provides a 100% live and online Associate of Arts in Business Administration degree program. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education, starting with our career-focused business program that equips students from across the U.S. with a solid foundation in core business principles to set them up for success no matter what their next step is.

The thought of having to take out large amounts of student loans simply to pay for college can be overwhelming. Many students face financial challenges when it comes to attending college. That’s why community college is so important. In the U.S., on average, community college costs about 50% less a year than the tuition at an in-state, four-year public university when tuition, fees, and related costs are factored in.

The average cost of tuition and fees for an in-state student attending a public four-year institution is $26,027 for one academic year. In comparison, Virginia community colleges charged, on average, $5,270 per year for in-state students and $11,610 for out-of-state students. But community college can be even more affordable than that – some Virginians may find they can earn an associate degree with zero out-of-pocket costs.

In this article, we will take a closer look at free community college opportunities that make higher education more accessible in the state of Virginia.

Read Campus's "How to Pay for Community College" guide to learn more about different methods to pay for your community college education.

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Virginia’s G3 Program

G3, known as the "Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back" program, is an initiative that invests in making community college more affordable for eligible Virginians. It is a tuition assistance program for students who enroll in certain high-demand career fields and whose family income falls below their specified threshold.

Many Virginians wonder, "Is community college free in Virginia?" The funds from the G3 program can cover the difference between what Federal/State financial aid pays for, the tuition cost, and other educational expenses like textbooks, fees, and supplies for your chosen major (G3-eligible program). It is available for full- and part-time students, where the part-time student must enroll in a minimum of six credit hours per semester or an approved short-term program.

You also get additional financial assistance if you qualify for the full Federal Pell Grant and enroll full-time (12 or more credit hours in fall and spring semesters and six credit hours in summer). This additional assistance will lessen the number of part-time hours a student has to work so that he or she can spend more time studying.

G3 can be used for designated programs that fall into high-need career areas:

  • Healthcare
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing and Skilled Trades
  • Public Safety
  • Early Childhood Education

It is crucial to remember that although the G3 program is very beneficial, it is also program-specific, so details can vary depending on the community college you plan to attend.

Therefore, you need to chat with your college advisor to confirm whether the G3 program may apply to your specific situation to ensure that you are on the right track. With the introduction of initiatives like the G3 program, such as Virginia's free community college efforts, pursuing higher education becomes more accessible for many.

Importantly, understand that Virginia’s G3 Program is about covering the difference in costs if you meet all the eligibility requirements, and it may not necessarily make your entire community college program completely free. You may still have out-of-pocket tuition expenses to pay for.

G3 designated programs that fall into high-need career areas

Eligibility Criteria & How to Apply

In order to be eligible for the G3 program, students must

  • be a Virginia resident.
  • enroll in a qualifying program at a Virginia community college.
  • have a total household income equal to or less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (roughly an income of $100,000 for a family of four).
  • enroll for a minimum of six credit hours at a Virginia community college.
  • enroll in a designated G3 program.
  • demonstrate financial need by completing the FAFSA.

Eligibility criteria play a crucial role in determining who can benefit from Virginia's free community college program.

Here’s how to apply:

  1. Confirm eligibility: Review the program's eligibility criteria. This typically includes Virginia residency, financial need, and enrollment in a qualifying program at a Virginia community college.
  2. Complete the FAFSA: You'll need to provide information about your income, assets, and household.
  3. Apply to a qualifying program: Enroll in a program at a Virginia community college that qualifies for G3 assistance.
  4. Complete the G3 application: After meeting the academic requirements, visit your college's website or contact their financial aid or G3 program office for details on how to apply.
  5. Submit required documents: Provide any required documentation to support your application, such as income verification or residency documents.
  6. Accept the award: If you are approved for G3 assistance, you will need to formally accept the award according to the instructions provided by your community college.

As you navigate through the process of applying for free community college in Virginia, keep in mind the unique requirements of each institution. Remember that the specific application process and deadlines may vary slightly from one community college to another. So, it's essential to check with your college's financial aid or G3 program office for the most accurate and up-to-date information on how to apply.

Considering Community College?

Community colleges are important for students who are interested in achieving a degree. Your education is an investment in yourself, your future, and your community.

By exploring free community college options available in your specific state, you're taking a significant step toward your goals. For those wondering about the affordability of higher education, Virginia's free community college initiative provides a beacon of hope. Why not seize the opportunity?

At Campus, we have an online associate degree in business program where tuition is below the maximum Federal Pell Grant award, meaning students who receive the full Pell would have no out-of-pocket tuition costs if they enroll. Campus also provides a free laptop, wifi access as needed, and free e-textbook and tutoring access to keep costs low. Request more info to learn more.

Want to learn more about Campus?

Our admissions advisors can answer your questions.