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Virginia College students talk student debt in Washington

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Students from more than a dozen Virginia colleges are in Washington D.C. Wednesday for a student debt roundtable including students from Ferrum and Radford.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) will host a conversation with student government leaders from 15 Virginia universities to hear how student loan debt impacts young people and their plans for the future. As the Senate begins consideration of the Higher Education Act, the Virginia Senators will also discuss their proposals to address college affordability issues and help alleviate the burden of student loan debt.

"There is more student debt than credit card debt. Too many students are coming out of college in the red. That means they are not getting married. That means they are not starting that new business. That means they're not trying to pursue their own career because they get crushed many times by 40, 50, 60 thousand dollars of student debt. I know as the first person in my family to graduate from college, if I'd come out with that kind of student debt, I wouldn't have been able to pursue my career," said Senator Warner.

Sixty percent of Virginia's college students will graduate with some student debt, and the average student loan debt in Virginia tops $26,000 per graduate. Nationwide, Americans now owe more than $1.3 trillion in student loans, outstripping credit cards and auto loans as the country's leading source of non-mortgage debt.

Last week, Sen. Warner introduced two pieces of legislation designed to help borrowers better manage their student loan debts. Sen. Kaine has introduced legislation tackling college affordability concerns, including increased dual enrollment options for high school students and additional tools to help students and families better calculate college costs.

STUDENT LEADERS HAVE RSVP'd TO ATTEND FROM THESE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: Christopher Newport University, College of William and Mary, Ferrum College, George Mason University, Hampton University, James Madison University, Longwood University, Mary Baldwin College, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, Randolph-Macon College, Richard Bland College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Tidewater Community College, University of Mary Washington, University of Virginia, and Virginia Union University.