Senate Education Committee Paves the Way for Free Community College Programs

Jan 23, 2018

Updated: January 24, 2018 at 11:05 a.m.

 

The Senate Education Committee  passed a bill that would make community and technical college free for some West Virginians.

Senate Bill 284 creates Advances Career Education, or ACE, programs that aim to fulfill workforce needs by connecting secondary schools with community and technical colleges.

 

The bill also creates the West Virginia Invests Grant Program, which would cover tuition costs for students after other financial aid has been applied.  

 

The grant program will cost about $7 million, according to a fiscal note affixed to the bill from the Community & Technical College Education System. That fiscal note takes into consideration the age eligibility requirement of 20, which was in the introduced version of the bill.

 

According to another fiscal note from the West Virginia Department of Education, the ACE program will come at no cost to that department. 

 

An amendment proposed by Sen. Mike Romano of Harrison County changed the age eligibility requirement for the grant from 20 to 18 and also includes anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent certification.

 

"My biggest problem with this bill -- maybe it's a fiscal one, maybe that's why they did it: why would you make kids wait to 20 years old to take advantage of it?" Romano asked the committee's counsel.

 

The committee’s substitute of the bill also includes home school and non-public school students in addition to public school students.

 

The bill now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.