College Affordability

Current Situation:
The data show that Virginia has above-average in-state tuition and below-average per-student tax appropriations. Tuition and fees at Virginia public research, four year, and two year institutions in 2017-2018 are among the highest in the US.

When viewing this post, select the Feature Image to view the chart’s details.

Challenge:
How to make higher education more affordable for Virginia residents particularly lower income students while expanding educational opportunities and controlling costs?

VA Congressional Members on Higher Ed Funding

Senator Mark Warner
“Warner remains committed to ensuring that every Virginian has access to the quality education and training needed to succeed in our global economy without the burden of crippling student debt. Having paid for his own undergraduate education with student loans, Senator Warner knows first-hand the financial challenges facing those who seek higher education. Senator Warner will continue to fight for commonsense solutions to make college more affordable and to help those who are already struggling with student debt. Senator Warner believes that if left unaddressed, student debt will be the next financial crisis facing our country. Senator Warner also knows that college isn’t the only path to success. He believes that we must increase our focus on industry certifications and lifelong learning and retraining in order to create more opportunities for good paying jobs for Virginians.”

Senator Tim Kaine
“Kaine believes that we must improve access to quality education if we want to prepare students and workers for success in the modern economy. He supports smart investments in education — from pre-kindergarten to college and workforce training — and has learned through years of experience in Virginia that no one path is right for everyone. Drawing from his years working in his dad’s ironworking shop and his experience teaching in Honduras, a key focus of Tim’s work in public service has been strengthening career and technical education (CTE) programs that teach students skills to succeed in high-demand, good-paying jobs.”

2019 VA General Assembly & Executive on Higher Ed

In the next few weeks, this post will aggregate the positions various State Senate & Delegate candidates running for office in 2019 have on funding of higher education in VA.

Mark Warner & College Affordability

Warner Town Hall at GMU
When: September 13, 2019 12:00 am
Where: GMU Hub Ballroom

On Friday, Sept. 13, Senator Mark Warner hosted a town hall meeting in the Hub ballroom aimed at addressing his legislative initiatives, including the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2019 and other issues surrounding higher education costs.

For more information on the Virginia Senators and Higher Ed – go to this post. For more information on Mark Warner – go to this post.

Senator Stuart addresses college costs

A proposal from a Republican senator would require student approval before a public college or university approves a tuition raise.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, wants tuition hikes to go to the students who will have to pay for it before a governing board votes. His legislation, which he introduced last year too and calls “crazy,” calls for two-thirds of a school’s student body to approve the raise before formal adoption.

Funding Higher Ed in VirginiaCollege Affordability

Current Situation:
The data show that Virginia has above-average in-state tuition and below-average per-student tax appropriations. Tuition and fees at Virginia public research, four year, and two year institutions in 2017-2018 are among the highest in the US.

When viewing this post, select the Feature Image to view the chart’s details.

Challenge:
How to make higher education more affordable for Virginia residents particularly lower income students while expanding educational opportunities and controlling costs?

Summary

Current Situation:
The data show that Virginia has above-average in-state tuition and below-average per-student tax appropriations. Tuition and fees at Virginia public research, four year, and two year institutions in 2017-2018 are among the highest in the US.

When viewing this post, select the Feature Image to view the chart’s details.

Challenge:
How to make higher education more affordable for Virginia residents particularly lower income students while expanding educational opportunities and controlling costs?

About

Why College Became So Expensive

By Joe Pinsker

The Atlantic – Sep. 3, 2019

The story of the rising cost of college in America is often told through numbers, with references to runaway tuition prices and the ever-growing pile of outstanding student debt.

The personal toll these trends have taken is hard to convey, but the anthropologist Caitlin Zaloom does so in her new book, Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost, which documents how the price of a college education has forced many middle-class families to rearrange their priorities, finances, and lives.

 

California joins a handful of other states that provide community college tuition-free

By Kendall Tramell

CNN – Aug. 28, 2019

California will provide free tuition for two years of community college to first-time, full-time California students.
California governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to increase the 2019-2020 state budget to $42.6 million. This expansion allows the California College Promise program to make a second year of free community college tuition possible for approximately 33,000 students.

“This is real help for students trying to improve their lives and build their future,” Newsom said in a statement Tuesday. He called it a “meaningful step toward chipping away at the cost of higher learning for students and their families.”

 

Americans don’t realize state funding for higher ed is falling, new poll finds

By Jon Marcus
Hechinger Report – Feb. 25, 2019

In fact, spending is down, driving tuition up and frustrating the search for skilled workers

“It’s kind of unthinkable that the government would scale back that kind of thing,” said Duffield, 20, a North Carolina community college student majoring in environmental engineering. “Any country that chooses not to prioritize higher education makes itself less competitive in the world.” 

Most Americans believe state spending for public universities and colleges has, in fact, increased or at least held steady over the last 10 years, according to a new survey by American Public Media.

They’re wrong. States have collectively scaled back their annual higher education funding by $9 billion during that time, when adjusted for inflation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP, reports.

Unkept Promises: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity

By Michael Mitchell et al
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) – August 23, 2017

The decade since the Great Recession hit, state spending on public colleges and universities remains well below historical levels. Overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the school year ending in 2018 was more than $7 billion below its 2008 level, after adjusting for inflation. (See Figure 1.) In the most difficult years after the recession, colleges responded to significant funding cuts by increasing tuition, reducing faculty, limiting course offerings, and in some cases closing campuses. Funding has rebounded slightly since then, but costs remain high and services in some places have not returned.

The promise to past generations of students in America has been that if you work hard and strive, public colleges and universities will serve as an avenue to greater economic opportunity and upward mobility. For today’s students — a cohort more racially and economically diverse than any before it — that promise is fading.

Expanding Opportunities

Top 6 trends in higher education

By Emal Dusst and Rebecca Winthrop
Brookings Institution – Jan. 10, 2019

Around the world, tuition at universities is rising at a much faster rate than inflation and challenging students’ return on investment. Reduced government funding and higher operating costs are driving the need for change at universities. The mismatch in employer needs and employee skills is leaving over seven million jobsunfilled in the U.S.

These trends are opening the way for new approaches in higher education. Innovations in how post-secondary education are delivered, financed, and recognized are driven by a range of actors—from large public universities like Arizona State University to elite private institutions like MIT to the many relatively new education companies entering the sector like Make School, Coursera, and Trilogy Education.

Online Learning

Internships

Apprenticeships

Lifelong Learning

Transferability of credits

Public Colleges

Source: SCHEV website

Community Colleges

Four year Public Colleges

Graduate Schools

General Assembly

State Senate

Source: VA LIS

2019 Members of Senate Education and Health Committee:
Stephan Newman, Committe Chair
Dick Saslaw
Louise Lucas
Janet Howell
Mamie Locke
George Barker
Richard Black (R-13, retiring)
Charles Carrico (R-40, retiring)
Chap Petersen
John Cosgrove
Lynwood Lewis
Siobhan Dunnavan
Amanda Chase
David Suetterlein
Mark Peake

2019 Members of Sub-Committee on Higher Education:
Dick Saslaw,  Sub-Committee Chair
Richard Black (R-13, retiring)
Amanda Chase
John Cosgrove
Janet Howell
Chap Petersen

State House of Delegates

Source: House website

2019 Members of the House Education Committee:
Steve Landes, Committee Chair (R-25, retiring)
Richard Bell (R-20, retiring)
Mark Cole
Brenda Pogge (R-96, retiring)
Roxann Robinson
David Yancey
Glenn Davis
James Leftwich
Dave LaRock
Gordon Helsel (R-91, retiring)
Chris Collins
John McGuire
Roslyn Tyler
David Bulova
Mark Keam
Lamont Bagby
Jeffrey Bourne
Schuyler VanValkenburg
Cheryl Turpin (D-85, running for Senator in 2019)
Debra Rodman
Rip Sullivan

2019 Members of the House Education Sub-Committee #3 (Higher Ed):
James Leftwich, Sub-Committee Chair
Richard Bell (R-20, retiring)
Roxann Robinson
David Yancey
Gordon Helsel (R-91, retiring)
Mark Keam
Schuyler VanValkenburg
Debra Rodman
Steve Landes (R-25, retiring), ex-officio

State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)

Source: SCHEV website

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for higher education. SCHEV was established by the Governor and General Assembly in 1956. Then as now, our mission, which is outlined in the Code of Virginia, is “to advocate and promote the development and operation of an educationally and economically sound, vigorous, progressive, and coordinated system of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and to lead state-level strategic planning and policy development and implementation based on research and analysis …. The Council shall also seek to facilitate collaboration among institutions of higher education that will enhance quality and create operational efficiencies and shall work with institutions of higher education and their boards on board development.”

To fulfill our mission, SCHEV makes higher education public policy recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly in such areas as capital and operating budget planning, enrollment projections, institutional technology needs, and student financial aid. SCHEV administers a variety of educational programs that benefit students, faculty, parents, and taxpayers. SCHEV serves as a catalyst to promote greater access, quality, affordability, and accountability throughout the system. SCHEV also helps policymakers, college administrators, and other concerned leaders work cooperatively and constructively to advance educational excellence

SCHEV Staff & Leadership

Source: SCHEV website

Peter Blake, Director

Peter A. Blake joined the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) as interim director in 2011 and became director in January 2012. Blake previously worked at SCHEV as an associate director overseeing higher education analyses in the areas of faculty and staff compensation, higher education funding policies, academic libraries, distance learning and instructional technology, and student financial aid. 

Blake left SCHEV in 1999 to serve as the legislative fiscal analyst for the Virginia General Assembly’s House Appropriations Committee. From 2002-2006 he was deputy secretary of education and secretary of education under former Governor Mark Warner. He later served as the vice chancellor of workforce development services for the Virginia Community College System, where he led policy and budget development for state and federal workforce programs. 

In July 2015, Blake was elected chair of the executive committee of SHEEO (State Higher Education Executive Officers), the national association for chief executives of statewide governing, policy and coordinating boards of postsecondary education. He had served as SHEEO’s treasurer and chair of its budget and finance subcommittee.
Blake has served on boards of organizations including LEAD Virginia, the Virginia Commonwealth University Alumni Association, the Richmond Public Library, the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Blake completed the Virginia Executive Institute and LEAD Virginia programs, as well as the Associates program through the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. He recently completed The Executive Program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He holds B.A. and M.S. degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Funding Options

The Virginia Plan for Higher Education

Source: SCHEV website

Overview: The Virginia Plan for Higher Education

Virginia faces a future in which higher education will play an increasingly important role. Virginians will need deeper and broader knowledge and skills to be engaged, productive participants in our evolving Commonwealth and its economy. At the same time, the demographics of the emerging generation are changing: An increasing share of our youth will come from populations which historically have been underrepresented in both higher education and the highly educated sectors of our workforce. These changes transpire at a time when the price of attending Virginia colleges and universities has increased at unsustainable rates.

The Code of Virginia vests the State Council of Higher Education (the Council) with responsibility to develop a statewide strategic plan that reflects statutory goals for higher education in the Commonwealth, identifies a coordinated approach to such state and regional goals, and emphasizes the future needs for higher education in Virginia. Approved in October 2014, The Virginia Plan for Higher Education is designed to identify trends that the Commonwealth must address if it is to continue to prosper and succeed. Through input from higher-education partners, The Virginia Plan is intended to help guide a vision for Virginia’s future through a common framework. This framework is built on the premise that all partners in higher education must work together to help Virginia, its citizens and its regions.

Controlling Costs

Federal Funding Options

Source: Vox

Democrats’ ongoing argument about free college, explained

By Matthew Yglesias
Vox – June 24, 2019

It’s a debate that cleaves two philosophically distinct approaches to politics: one a mentality of hoarding scarce resources for the most efficient uses, and the other a broad, aspirational vision of public luxury in which there’s little need to quibble about exactly who gets what.

Yet the federal government is a secondary actor in higher education. State governments allowed higher education cost structures to rise even while pulling back on funding, pushing more costs onto students. It’s ultimately state governments that will need to decide whether they’re willing to spend more on higher education, cut costs, or both. The candidates arguing about this are running for president, not governor, and when you look under the hoods of their plans, there may be less to the contrast than the broad philosophical discussion would suggest.

Democratic Presidential Candidates

Democratic Presidential Contenders Propose Free College And Student Loan Forgiveness

By Anya Kamenetz
NPR – June 27, 2019

Kevin Carey, who directs education policy at the nonpartisan think tank New America, calls the 2020 Democratic field an “arms race” for “who can be the most ambitious and expansive when it comes to tackling the cost of higher education.”

But, he says, there are important differences among the candidates’ proposals — and of course roadblocks along the way. There are questions of equity, fairness, cost and feasibility, as well as the question of which plan will attract the most voters in this early stage of the game.

The 2020 Presidential Candidates on Higher Ed

By Inside Higher Ed
Democratic contenders push moderate debt relief plans in response to Warren, Sanders– August 9, 2019
Buttigieg Calls Out For-Profit Colleges in Debate – July 31, 2019
Warren introduces debt relief legislation, drawing contrast with Sanders – July 24, 2019
Democratic contenders draw contrasts on free college, student debt – June 28, 2019
Sanders outflanks Warren with proposal for universal student loan debt relief– June 25, 2019
Go to link above for more articles

Controlling Costs

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VA Congressional Members on Higher Ed Funding

Senator Mark Warner
“Warner remains committed to ensuring that every Virginian has access to the quality education and training needed to succeed in our global economy without the burden of crippling student debt. Having paid for his own undergraduate education with student loans, Senator Warner knows first-hand the financial challenges facing those who seek higher education. Senator Warner will continue to fight for commonsense solutions to make college more affordable and to help those who are already struggling with student debt. Senator Warner believes that if left unaddressed, student debt will be the next financial crisis facing our country. Senator Warner also knows that college isn’t the only path to success. He believes that we must increase our focus on industry certifications and lifelong learning and retraining in order to create more opportunities for good paying jobs for Virginians.”

Senator Tim Kaine
“Kaine believes that we must improve access to quality education if we want to prepare students and workers for success in the modern economy. He supports smart investments in education — from pre-kindergarten to college and workforce training — and has learned through years of experience in Virginia that no one path is right for everyone. Drawing from his years working in his dad’s ironworking shop and his experience teaching in Honduras, a key focus of Tim’s work in public service has been strengthening career and technical education (CTE) programs that teach students skills to succeed in high-demand, good-paying jobs.”

Summary

Senator Mark Warner
“Warner remains committed to ensuring that every Virginian has access to the quality education and training needed to succeed in our global economy without the burden of crippling student debt. Having paid for his own undergraduate education with student loans, Senator Warner knows first-hand the financial challenges facing those who seek higher education. Senator Warner will continue to fight for commonsense solutions to make college more affordable and to help those who are already struggling with student debt. Senator Warner believes that if left unaddressed, student debt will be the next financial crisis facing our country. Senator Warner also knows that college isn’t the only path to success. He believes that we must increase our focus on industry certifications and lifelong learning and retraining in order to create more opportunities for good paying jobs for Virginians.”

Senator Tim Kaine
“Kaine believes that we must improve access to quality education if we want to prepare students and workers for success in the modern economy. He supports smart investments in education — from pre-kindergarten to college and workforce training — and has learned through years of experience in Virginia that no one path is right for everyone. Drawing from his years working in his dad’s ironworking shop and his experience teaching in Honduras, a key focus of Tim’s work in public service has been strengthening career and technical education (CTE) programs that teach students skills to succeed in high-demand, good-paying jobs.”

About

For more information about Senator Mark Warner and college affordability – go to this post. For more information about Senator Mark Warner and his positions and legislation on other issues – go to this post.

For more information about Senator Tim Kaine and his positions and legislation on other issues – go to this post.

Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act will take the important step of tackling student loan debt on the front end by increasing financial literacy among prospective borrowers and empowering them to make better-informed decisions about their higher education financing. Current law only requires that institutions provide one-time entrance and exit counseling to student loan borrowers receiving federal student aid, excluding Parent PLUS loans and consolidation loans. This bill will promote financial literacy by requiring that federal student loan borrowers – both students and parents – receive annual counseling that reflects their individual borrowing situation; increasing awareness of accumulating financial obligations by requiring borrowers to consent each year before receiving federal student loans; requiring annual counseling for Pell Grant recipients; and directing the U.S. Secretary of Education to maintain and distribute an online counseling tool that institutions can use to provide the counseling required by the bill.

The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act is being cosponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), by Tim Kaine (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Tim Scott (R-SC). This legislation has the support of the National Education Association, Bipartisan Policy Center, UNCF, TICAS, Chiefs for Change, and American Student Assistance.  For more information on Senator Warner’s government website, go here.

Innovation Zone Act

The Innovation Zone Act, would rename experimental sites as “innovation zones” to better reflect the mission of the initiative. The bill would also require the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to establish a methodology for capturing data before an experiment begins, so colleges have clear direction in reporting data. It would also allow colleges the opportunity to submit suggestions for future experiments.

The legislation will improve and reform the experimental sites initiative by:

  • Expressly stating that experiments must increase student success.
  • Providing an opportunity for the public, institutions of higher education and other stakeholders to submit suggestions for experiments, and the Secretary must base selection on sufficient interest.
  • Specifying the length of a given experiment before it begins.
  • Requiring the data collection methodology, rigorous evaluation methods, estimated cost, and answerable questions to be established before launching an experiment.
  • Requiring the Secretary to report on the status of experiments every two years that will be published on the Department’s website.
  • Requiring a review of existing experiments.
  • Renaming experimental site as an innovation zones to better reflect the purpose of the title.

For more information on Tim Kaine’s government website, go here.

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Saslaw at lectern2019 VA General Assembly & Executive on Higher Ed

In the next few weeks, this post will aggregate the positions various State Senate & Delegate candidates running for office in 2019 have on funding of higher education in VA.

Summary

In the next few weeks, this post will aggregate the positions various State Senate & Delegate candidates running for office in 2019 have on funding of higher education in VA.

State Delegate Positions

Virginia21 2019 General Assembly Candidate Survey

Higher Education Attainment – Please share your platform on higher education funding and college affordability. Do you support increasing state financing of student aid in the biennial budget? Do you support increasing the amount awarded to students enrolled in private colleges and universities through the Tuition Assistance Grant? How can Virginia ensure equity in access and attainment for all students, particularly those from underserved groups?

Wendy Gooditis – VA House District 10 (D)

I support funding for our public colleges and universities, as I understand that education is a critical area of investment for our economic future. I also support Tuition Assistance Grants for students attending institutions that demonstrate financial responsibility and provide quality education. I believe financial aid assistance, especially at our public colleges and universities, should be increased to provide greater access to underserved communities.

Student Debt – Student loan debt has surpassed auto loans and credit cards to become the second highest form of consumer debt. The average Virginia college graduate now owes over $30,000 in student debt. How should Virginia address the mounting burden of student debt and its economic impact? Do you support strengthening oversight of student loan servicers?

State Senators Positions

Executive Branch

Governor

Lt. Governor

X
Mark Warner & College AffordabilityMark Warner & College Affordability

Warner Town Hall at GMU
When: September 13, 2019 12:00 am
Where: GMU Hub Ballroom

On Friday, Sept. 13, Senator Mark Warner hosted a town hall meeting in the Hub ballroom aimed at addressing his legislative initiatives, including the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2019 and other issues surrounding higher education costs.

For more information on the Virginia Senators and Higher Ed – go to this post. For more information on Mark Warner – go to this post.

Summary

Warner Town Hall at GMU
When: September 13, 2019 12:00 am
Where: GMU Hub Ballroom

On Friday, Sept. 13, Senator Mark Warner hosted a town hall meeting in the Hub ballroom aimed at addressing his legislative initiatives, including the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2019 and other issues surrounding higher education costs.

For more information on the Virginia Senators and Higher Ed – go to this post. For more information on Mark Warner – go to this post.

Four Minute Video

By Mason Cable Network

Fourth Estate article

By Hailey Bullis, Co Editor-in-Chief

Senator Mark Warner focuses on student loan debt, financial literacy and other issues

During his opening statement, Warner talked about his business background and a few of the different legislative measures he has put forward centering around college affordability and student financial literacy.

Warner noted that the decision on where a student goes to college and the cost of attending a university will probably, next to buying a house, be the most expensive investment that student makes.

“We do a really crummy job in this country of trying to give you the right information and have the right kind of price transparency around making that selection, so I’ve got a series of bills, legislative bills, that try to say, ‘How do we make sure that you are a more informed consumer before you go?’” said Warner.

Before welcoming Warner to the stage, Mason President Anne Holton took the opportunity to note the diversity of backgrounds in Mason’s community and why the discussion on the cost of higher education was important at Mason.

“We are a student body — as you know — largely comprised of folks who don’t come from a lot of wealth … over a third of our student body is First Gen college students, almost a third of our student body are students who are eligible for Pell Grants, students from lower income backgrounds, students with lots of need,” Holton said.

She continued, “The great thing is that we take them on here at Mason to great graduation rates, to great jobs throughout Northern Virginia and the United States and the world.”

The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2019, on which Warner partnered with Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden, aims at increasing students’ access to information about a school’s graduation rates, how much a graduate can expect to earn, and student debt levels before they make important decisions about higher education.

Warner also brought up his Employer Participation in Repayment Act that would allow employers to pay for employees’ student loan payments, or even send an employee back to school using pre-tax dollars. He also talked about making the Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act, an income-based repayment legislation, the “number one or two number top priority” for the Senate.

During the question and answer portion of the town hall, Student Body President Camden Layton asked Warner several questions that were sent in beforehand by Mason students that centered around increasing Pell Grants, student financial assistance and financial literacy.

Fourth Estate/Dominique Bernardino

A few Mason students also had an opportunity to ask Warner their questions directly.  Among them was Will McLauchlin, a sophomore at Mason, who asked if Warner would support Bernie Sanders’ plan to cancel student debt, a prominent issue among the Democratic party.

Warner said he does not support Sanders’ plan, saying, “There is nothing progressive about leaving your generation with a country that can’t pay its bills.”“I have several friends here with great amounts of student loan debt and I’m aware that your colleague in the Senate, Senator Bernie Sanders, has introduced legislation … to make public colleges’ and universities’ four year tuition free… we are the richest country in the world…in my opinion, if we can bail out the banks on Wall Street, we can bail out the students too,” McLauchlin said.

Another Mason student, Nick Steinmetz, who is an out-of-state student from Florida brought attention to out-of-state tuition costs. “I’ve spent my entire life in the state of Florida, however, I realized because I wanted a career in politics I had to be in the capital region but out-of-state tuition is astronomical,” he said. He proceeded to ask Warner if he had any plans to drive down out-of-state tuition costs.

Warner said this is because out-of-state students do not have representatives at the state legislative level. Warner said he does not have a simple answer to the high tuition costs out-of-state students face. “Unless we can decrease the inflation rate in higher education, we’re just nibbling around the edges,” he said.

Both Student Government and GMU Democrats were present at the event.

For Taylor Moore, the Executive Secretary of University Services of Student Government, student loan debt and the discussion surrounding it is going to be an important voting issue for her this November.

“For me, I would say student loan debt and the whole discussion around that is something that is very important to me because I do like education … and education policy, and I am a student and I have a lot of debt,” she said.

Emma Salas, the chief of staff for GMU Democrats, also said that college affordability would be a big voting issue in the November election.

“It’s a super important issue, especially — I’m an out-of-state student — this will be the first time I’m voting here in Virginia in this local election year … At [Warner’s] level, college affordability [is] a big [issue],” she said.

Warner ended the town hall by urging attendees to go vote. “This year, every member of the General Assembly, all 100 house seats, all 40 senate seats — those folks will frankly have as much to say about tuition and reimbursement and support,” he said. “So please get out there if you’re a Virginian and vote this fall.”

Mason News

Sen. Mark Warner meets with Mason students to talk about college affordability

By John Hollis
September 13, 2019

His father paid for his first semester of college, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said Friday, but that after that, he was on his own and took out student loans to pay for his education.

Speaking in The Hub Ballroom to an estimated 200 Mason students, faculty and staff, the two-term Virginia Democrat and former Virginia governor said he wants to ensure college remains affordable for all students. Warner highlighted legislation and other measures he supports that could ease the financial pinch many college students face nationwide amidst soaring tuition costs that can result in crippling student debt.

“We have to figure out how we can slow the growing costs of college education,” Warner said. “We’re not going to be able to stop it, but we can slow it and provide a series of other options.”

That likely came as welcome news to Mason President Anne Holton, whose introduction of Warner noted that more than a third of Mason students are first-generation college students, and almost a third of them are Pell Grant-eligible. Yet Mason boasts among the lowest student default rates in the state and virtually no disparity in graduation rates among both Pell Grant recipients and nonrecipients.

“That doesn’t mean, Sen. Warner, that we don’t have an affordability issue,” said Holton, a longtime friend of Warner, along with her husband, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “We absolutely do because of the students we’re serving and the high quality of work we’re doing with them.”

Virginia’s senior senator noted that student debt is a detriment to the national economy because it often hinders young people from taking entrepreneurial risks, buying homes or even getting married.

“It’s a crushing burden,” Warner said.

Warner cited legislation currently under consideration that would lower student debt by refinancing loans “to a manageable level.” He also cited proposed “know before you go” legislation that would provide better financial guidance to prospective college students in the hopes of creating better informed consumers. He said he also supports increased Pell Grant funding and a more simplified financial aid system.

That’s just what Sarah Kurian had hoped to hear. The junior global affairs major from Reston, Virginia, said that she came to hear Sen. Warner because higher education affordability especially resonates with college students.

“It’s really an important issue for us,” she said. “So it was really nice to hear a politician talking about it.”

Not everybody went away completely satisfied, however. Sophomore government and international politics major Will McLauchlin asked Warner if he’d support legislation that would mandate free college for students and cancellation of all student debt, but didn’t get the answer for which he hoped.

Warner said it wouldn’t be responsible to leave his children a country that couldn’t afford to pay its bills.

“I don’t think there’s anything progressive about promising you free stuff if we can’t pay for it,” Warner said.

Full Video by GMU-TV

(*This was filmed by GMUTV- George Mason University Television. Virginia onAir does not own the rights to this video.*)

Photos by Lathan Goumas

Education Proposals

Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

he Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act will take the important step of tackling student loan debt on the front end by increasing financial literacy among prospective borrowers and empowering them to make better-informed decisions about their higher education financing. Current law only requires that institutions provide one-time entrance and exit counseling to student loan borrowers receiving federal student aid, excluding Parent PLUS loans and consolidation loans. This bill will promote financial literacy by requiring that federal student loan borrowers – both students and parents – receive annual counseling that reflects their individual borrowing situation; increasing awareness of accumulating financial obligations by requiring borrowers to consent each year before receiving federal student loans; requiring annual counseling for Pell Grant recipients; and directing the U.S. Secretary of Education to maintain and distribute an online counseling tool that institutions can use to provide the counseling required by the bill.

The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act is being cosponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), by Tim Kaine (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Tim Scott (R-SC). This legislation has the support of the National Education Association, Bipartisan Policy Center, UNCF, TICAS, Chiefs for Change, and American Student Assistance.  For more information on Senator Warner’s government website, go here.

Full Transcript of Town Hall

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Senator Stuart address college costsSenator Stuart addresses college costs

A proposal from a Republican senator would require student approval before a public college or university approves a tuition raise.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, wants tuition hikes to go to the students who will have to pay for it before a governing board votes. His legislation, which he introduced last year too and calls “crazy,” calls for two-thirds of a school’s student body to approve the raise before formal adoption.

Summary

A proposal from a Republican senator would require student approval before a public college or university approves a tuition raise.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, wants tuition hikes to go to the students who will have to pay for it before a governing board votes. His legislation, which he introduced last year too and calls “crazy,” calls for two-thirds of a school’s student body to approve the raise before formal adoption.

State Legislature

College Costs

A Republican senator wants students to approve tuition increases before governing boards do
By: Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Mercury – December 24, 2019

Stuart wants to make other cost increases at public colleges more understandable. He filed separate legislation that requires university governing boards  to provide written notice of why they want to increase a president’s compensation and where the funding for the raise would come from. The boards must allow public comment on the change and the increase has to be voted on in an open meeting.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s database of state employee salaries, seven of the 10 highest paid state employees were university presidents this past year:

  • Michael Rao at VCU made $1 million
  • University of Virginia President James Ryan made $962,875
  • J.H. Binford Peay at Virginia Military Institute made $837,267
  • Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands made $775,000
  • Paul Trible at Christopher Newport made $771,287
  • Angel Cabrera, who left his position as president of George Mason this summer, made $763,226
  • John Broderick at Old Dominion made $638,217

Those amounts include housing, cell phone allowances, transportation, bonuses and other items that made up the presidents’ total compensation.

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