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TCC to provide tuition-free education through Gov. Northam’s “G3” program

Tidewater Community College will offer tuition-free education to low- and middle-income students through Gov. Ralph Northam’s “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program, which was signed into legislation on March 29, 2021.

The “G3” program includes $36 million to cover tuition, fees, and books and provide wraparound support for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions.

“This is a phenomenal day for TCC and the students we serve,” said Dr. Michelle Woodhouse, interim vice president of academics and chief academic officer. “This program will help many students retrain for new careers in high-demand industries and expand the pipeline of talent for Virginia’s businesses.”

The “G3” program connects students with training and resources so they can secure jobs in high-demand fields and support their families without incurring high levels of student loan debt.

Students working in different careers.

“G3” program areas include health care, information technology and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, public safety, and early childhood education. On average, students in these high-demand degree programs increase their wages by 60 percent upon program completion.

TCC alum Marcus Moody teaches welding at the Portsmouth Campus.

TCC alum Marcus Moody teaches welding on the Portsmouth Campus, which is home to the area’s largest welding lab. He came to TCC in 2012 to retrain for a new career after being laid off from a job in the banking industry. “A program like this would have been helpful to me. I would not have been able to improve myself and learn a new skill without the financial aid and the lower tuition rates at TCC,” Moody said.

“I encourage anyone to take advantage of the opportunities at TCC, including the skilled trades. I talk with my students about the options for welders, from working at the shipyard to owning your own business. Once you learn the skill, it’s yours for life.”

TCC welding student Aurora Finchum.

The “G3” program is one of the first in the nation to provide wraparound financial assistance to help students at the lowest income levels with expenses such as food, transportation, and childcare. Students who qualify for a full federal Pell grant and enroll full-time will receive student- support incentive grants on a semester basis. These grants will be in an amount up to $900 per semester and up to $450 per summer term.

Students interested in “G3” programs at TCC should call the Virtual Student Support Team at 757-822-1111 or email

Governor tours Regional Health Professions Center to tout G3 initiative

On Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam observed Tidewater Community College respiratory therapy student Taylor Moneypenny inflate a pig lung, which has an anatomical structure similar to that of a human. In an ambulance bay, Northam listened to a bleeding man writhing in pain while emergency medical service students tended to his injuries. He watched diagnostic medical sonography students complete sonograms on their peers using state-of-the-art equipment.

President Conston and Gov. Northam

His hour-long tour of TCC’s Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus provided an up-close glimpse of students preparing for careers in health care, one of five in-demand areas included in an initiative in his proposed budget before the General Assembly. The “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, dubbed G3, proposes a free community college education in incentivized areas for students who meet certain income requirements.

The other fields are skilled trades, information technology, early childhood education and public safety, but health care is the primary focus.

“Health-care systems are craving for your talent,” Gov. Northam told students afterward during informal remarks before TCC President Marcia Conston; Megan Healy, chief workforce development advisor in the governor’s office; and representatives from Sentara Health and Bon Secours, two of the college’s regional partners. “There’s not enough people to fill these much-needed jobs. What we’re trying to do at the state level is to really open up what I call that classroom-to-career pipeline and train individuals for these 21st-century jobs.”

Because of the governor’s background in health care – he worked as a pediatric neurologist prior to being elected in 2017 – he was able to appreciate the hands-on learning inside the 6,500-square-foot Regional Health Professions Center. “I almost want to get in here and get my hands dirty,” he quipped. He was particularly awestruck by the scene in the ambulance bay, as authentic-looking “blood” leaked from a surgical cut suit.

But mainly Northam wanted to stress his commitment to what’s been called a gamechanger. G3 would boost funding to Virginia’s Community Colleges by $145 million over the next two budget years and enable an estimated 39,000 low- and moderate-income Virginians to enroll without cost in the targeted programs.

“We are excited about G3,” President Conston told the governor, pumping her fist. “We are poised to get students trained so they can be competitive in the workforce.”

Gov. Northam with Taylor Moneypenny

TCC offers associate and certificate programs in all of the targeted areas.

G3 eligibility would be established by students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). G3 funds would make up the difference between what financial aid pays for and the cost of tuition, fees, and books for the program.

In response to a student question, Gov. Northam stressed the importance of wraparound services, noting academics are typically not the reason students drop out of community college. “It’s because of affordability,” he said.

Healy said students who attend college full time under the G3 program and are awarded a full Pell Grant would receive an additional $1,000 grant per semester in support of expenses that include food and childcare.

“We want to make sure that all Virginians have access to attending a community college without incurring a lot of extra debt,” Gov. Northam said. “That’s the G3 program and that’s why we’re here today.”