A real free breakfast | Bacon’s rebellion


by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Some people who commented on my recent article on the reclassification of the G3 program for community colleges took issue with my characterization of it as free education for some community colleges. Maintained him that it really wasn’t free; the student may not have to pay the tuition, but the money for the program comes from the taxpayer. Therefore, it was not free because the taxpayers were paying for it. This is a valid point.

But, I’m here to tell you that there really is a free state program for some residents of Virginia, which I suspect not many people are aware of. If you are at least 60 years old and have lived in Virginia for at least a year, you can take up to three courses per semester at a Virginia institution of higher education without paying a tuition fee. (Sec. 23.1-639 et seq., Code of Virginia)

Of course, there are certain conditions:

  1. You must be accepted by the establishment for admission.
  2. You cannot take the course for credit. (It’s a bummer if you’re trying to change careers at this point in your life and need classes to get certified, but most people at this age are just looking to take a class or two for their development. staff.)
  3. The instructor or department must approve you. (This will prevent you from taking a high-level physics course that you are not qualified for and thus wasting everyone’s time asking basic questions.)
  4. Regular students, that is, those who pay tuition fees, are given priority. They don’t want you bumping into someone who pays for the tuition.

I need to qualify my request a little. It’s not completely free; students are responsible for the cost of all textbooks and all costs associated with materials used in the classroom. However, since you will not get any credit for the course, you can simply attend the course and not purchase the books.

Although the law requires that colleges and universities “prominently include in its course catalog a statement of the benefits this article provides for seniors, ”colleges do not make it easy to find this program. After all, they want to pay students. I took a course at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College last fall as part of this program. During the registration process, I searched the college website for information on how to apply for the program. I’ve found nothing. It was only because I was familiar with the program that I was able to ask someone at the registrar’s office about it and she directed me to the location on the website. I have tried to find it on the VCU and W&M websites and it is certainly not displayed “prominently”. It was only by using the “search” function on the websites and entering the magic words “Higher Education Act for Seniors” that I found the information I needed.

I ran into one of the conditions. The section of the course that was my first choice was completed and I had to take the other section. I was told that if I was a paying student, the department head probably would have lifted the capacity limit and allowed me to enroll.

So there you have it, a truly free government service. The student does not have to pay for the service and no additional taxpayer money is required to provide it.

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