When the General Assembly completed its regular session on March 12, 2020, the first session under new leadership following the 2019 elections, college affordability and talent development emerged again as top priorities for the Commonwealth.
With bipartisan support, the General Assembly adopted a biennial (2020-2022) budget that built on Governor Northam’s initial spending blueprint and included more than $440 million in new higher education investments.
The new investments correspond closely to recommendations advanced by Growth4VA, including these additional appropriations in excess of 2020 base funding levels:
College Affordability and Access
- $63 million for need-based student financial aid at public institutions
- $12 million for tuition assistance grants at private nonprofit colleges
- $71 million for the Governor’s “G-3” community college affordability initiative
- $80 million for in-state undergraduate tuition moderation incentive funding
- $23 million for institution-specific affordability initiatives
Talent Development and Operations
- $30 million for the Tech Talent Investment Program (and restored most funding for the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative)
- $3 million for the Innovative Internship Fund and institutional partnership agreements
- $21 million for institution-specific initiatives, including the Online Virginia Network
- $67 million for institution-specific operating support
- $80 million for faculty and staff compensation
The extent of the coronavirus outbreak became apparent soon after the regular session concluded. The Governor and General Assembly responded on April 22, 2020, by suspending most new investments that were included in the 2020-2022 budget, including the lion’s share of new higher education appropriations. The General Assembly will convene for a special session in late summer or early fall to make changes in the new state budget when the economic and fiscal effects of the virus and federal budget actions are expected to be better known.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC) issued a statement recommending that the Commonwealth’s elected leaders base the upcoming budget choices on “what will best position Virginia for the transformation ahead—not only what will get Virginians healthy, safe, and back to work, but what will equip them to grow and prosper in a strongly rebounding, more competitive, and more resilient innovation economy here in the Commonwealth.”
The VBHEC statement put forward four key questions that should be considered in the budget process. The answers suggest that continuing to invest in talent development and college affordability will best position Virginia for future recovery, growth, and job opportunities. Read the full statement here.