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Senate bill would provide data on college costs and job opportunities

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Sen. Mark Warner sponsored the bill along with Sens.
Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden. AP Photo/Steve Helber

Although he didn’t speak at SCHEV’s  “Quality and Value” summit, Sen. Mark Warner says he is keenly focused on the value of a college education: what it costs, and what comes afterward in terms of job opportunities.

With Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Warner has introduced legislation — the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act — that would post online relevant data about colleges that already has been collected.

“This will allow students and families to access comparative information on which colleges and which majors will help them find a good job after graduation,” Warner says.

The senator says he also is concerned about student debt and finding ways to bring down the cost of higher education.

In Virginia, 59 percent of the students of private or public four-year colleges graduated with debt last year. The average debt load was $25,780, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

“I know as someone who was the first in my family to graduate from college, I wouldn’t have had the business or political success I’ve had without being able to access a student loan program and being able to earn some money so I didn’t come out hobbled with huge amounts of student debt,” Warner says.

Among other initiatives, Warner has proposed legislation to cap student loan repayments at 15 percent of income, so graduates pay less when they’re just getting started and gradually repay more as their income increases.

To help low-income students, such as those mentioned at the Richmond conference by Anne Holton, Virginia’s secretary of education, Warner would allow low-income students to earn early college credits in high school through the Pell grant program.

Warner says those who complete college courses before they finish high school are more likely to graduate from college than their peers who do not.

“Nobody needs to be told just how hard it is for low-income students to afford a college education,” Warner says.

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