The West Virginia state legislature is considering a bill that would make community college free for all state residents, but students must pass a drug test every semester to be eligible.
As the national opioid epidemic continues, colleges must find ways to help students recover. The proposed bill, West Virginia Senate Bill 284, says the hope that comes with increased access to education and employment opportunities can fight the spread of drug addiction.
“West Virginia currently faces a human capital crisis, as the state regularly ranks amongst the lowest states in the nation in workforce participation rates,” the Bill said. “Improving the state’s workforce participation rates and the level of the workforce’s career education is critical to economic development and making West Virginia a more prosperous state.”
Dr. Casey K. Sacks, vice chancellor for The Community and Technical College System of West Virginia, said that if the bill passed, it would create a grant that covers the remaining need for tuition and fees after students have received as much federal and state aid as possible. Students would be eligible to receive the grant as long as they passed the drug test.
Many programs in West Virginia’s community college system already require drug testing, Sacks said. This is especially true of technical programs, which may require students to operate heavy machinery or work closely with patients.