McDonnell to ask General Assembly for a $50 million higher education package

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Gov. Bob McDonnell will ask the General Assembly to pass a $50 million higher education package to support his goal of awarding 100,000 more college degrees in Virginia over the next 15 years.

McDonnell announced the plan at a meeting of his Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation, and Investment held at Virginia Commonwealth University. The commission will present an interim report containing recommendations for the governor in the coming weeks.

The committee voted to make recommendations in three major areas: economic opportunity, reform-based investment, and affordable access. Economic opportunity plans include:

-      enrolling more students at state public and private colleges by stabilizing base funding,

-      rewarding enrollment growth and establishing institution-specific enrollment targets,

-      encouraging degree completion with partial college credit.

The committee also will suggest the creation of a research and development initiative, which will catalog all R&D assets and activities. It recommended the creation of an emerging technologies fund, as well as a new state income tax credit to promote private investment in R&D activities.

Other suggestions include the incorporation of new technology into courses provided at Virginia’s colleges and universities, more online course offerings, and the expanded use of electronic text books. The commission suggests increasing tuition assistance grants (TAG) for Virginia residents attending the state’s private colleges and universities and offering additional need-based financial aid.

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