Bill to Offer Free Community College Advances
Senate Bill 284, which would offer in-state public community college to certain students at no cost to the student, was reported out of committee on Tuesday by the Senate Education Committee. Sponsored by Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) and Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso (D-Marion), the bill, as currently amended, would permit a West Virginia high school graduate, or graduate of an equivalent program, to enroll for free in specific associates degree and certificate programs which are identified as a workforce need.
The program would require the student to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average to continue receiving the grant that pays for the program. It also creates “Advanced Career Education” (“ACE”) programs, which partner with high schools to encourage students to identify a technical or skilled trades career path early, and then funnel the ACE participants into the community college programs for their identified career. Participation in the ACE program is not required in order to access the community college grant, however.
The current version of the bill comes after a committee amendment which removed a previous requirement that participants must be at least 20 years old or have participated in the ACE program to access the grant. Post-amendment, participants only need either be 18 years old or an ACE participant.
The bill must now pass the Senate Finance Committee before being advanced to the floor. If enacted, West Virginia would become the ninth state to offer no-cost community college for at least some programs following Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.
A copy of the bill, as well as tracking information, may be found at http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Status/Bills_history.cfm?input=284&year=2018&sessiontype=RS&btype=bill