Sen. Warner, Students Try To Tackle Student Debt

September 3, 2014

Armed with notepads and smart phones students packed into UVa.'s O'Hill Wednesday afternoon to speak with Senator Mark Warner about ways to tackle the nation's growing student debt.

"In America in 2014 you shouldn't go broke if you go to college," said Sen. Warner.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 71 percent of graduates from four-year colleges from the class of 2012 have student loan debt, the average of which is $29,400.

"Young people can't buy that house, they can't start a job, they can't start a family," Sen. Warner said.

UVa. students say they fell pressure of mounting student debt, especially after the university scaled back scholarship and grant money given to low and middle income students through AccessUVA, despite an increase in tuition for the 2014-2015 school year.

"I was very sad when I saw that. Financial aid does not cover that little increase," said first year Christopher Samuel.

Student say while taking a loan is an option to cover the costs, it's not for everyone.

"Some people are looking at the way student debt is, looking at the prices are saying I can't afford this. Maybe this isn't for me. They don't see it as an option," said fourth year Shanice Hardy.

Warner suggested one way to fight the down debt is for students to have a full understanding of the financial investment even before taking their first college class. Warner's other proposals include a tax-free employer education assistance program, and a bi-partisan bill aimed at helping students pay back loans at a manageable pace.

"Income based repayment would cap your student debt payments to 10 percent of your total income allowing someone those first few years of college to take more chances. Long term we'll still get all our money paid back but it also gives more flexibility for people," said Warner.

Warner said student debt is the issues he hears most frequently around the Commonwealth, and that it will take bi-partisan participation to drive down the debt.

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