by Carman Chatman
(A video statement from Sen. Warner was added to the end of this story in an update on Jan. 21.)
Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D) was among the first generation of his family to go to college and law school. He told the Spartan Echo during an interview on Tuesday, Jan. 13, that he understands the hardships of attending college and said that’s why he’s working to make college more affordable. Warner explained that the average college student today will graduate with $25,000 in debt, or more, and that students nationwide are a total of 1.3 trillion dollars in debt.
Many find themselves in colleges and majors that do not best fit them and, as a result, they graduate with a degree with no job to pursue. Consequently, Warner is proposing several acts in the U.S. Senate with the intentions to prevent and revive students who have already graduated college and others who are on the way to higher education.
Warner told the Spartan Echo that the following acts will increase college affordability.
- Go to High School, Go to College Act – this increases the access that students with low income have to earn free college credits in high school with the help of a Pell-Grant program.
- Student Right to Know Before You Go Act – allows students and parents to be informed of what schools are best for them, including the retention and graduation rates, as well as potential job opportunities based on your major.
- K-12 1⁄2 Act. – will give a free semester of community college for potential students enrolled in a program of study with intentions of receiving apprenticeship or postsecondary certificate.
As well as making college more affordable, Warner also hopes to help and prevent student debt for current and future students with these acts.
- Dynamic Repayment Act – gives students a way to pursue their dreams after college with income-based repayment programs that help graduates through periods of unemployment or low-income.
- Employer Participation in Repayment Act – helps employees repay student loans by giving up to $5,500 pre-tax to their employees’ federal and/or private student loans.
Warner hopes that these legislative acts for students will be approved and that the issues they address will receive the support of President Obama’s administration and the attention of the media. That’s why he reached out to student newspapers at colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Spartan Echo was one of three newspapers to speak with him on these issues.