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Standing at the iconic Pylons at the Drillfield on Virginia Tech’s campus, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he planned to propose an additional $111 million in need-based financial aid for Virginia students when the General Assembly convenes in a special session on Aug. 2.

Approximately $100 million from Northam’s proposal would be distributed to public institutions through the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the remaining $11 million to private institutions through the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant. This money would be in addition to the $833 million that Virginia colleges and universities already have received in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III.

“Our administration, with legislators like Sen. Edwards and Del. Hurst, have made it a priority to invest in our education system, and in making it more accessible to every Virginian no matter who they are or where they’re from in the commonwealth,” Northam said. “When you are able to get a good education, you’re able to build the life that you want and that you deserve — and that door should not be closed to anybody because of affordability.”

“Higher education faced numerous challenges over the past 16 months, and it was an especially difficult time for our students,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “For many who were already facing financial strain, the impact of COVID threatened to push their higher education dream out of reach. We are grateful to the governor and general assembly for these additional funds to support financial aid at this critical time and for their continued investment in the future of our students and the commonwealth.”

Northam’s announcement came two weeks after CNBC rated Virginia as the No. 1 state for business for the second consecutive year. The commonwealth has won the award five times, and the network cited the state’s strong workforce and solid education system as primary reasons why.

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