Sen. Warner talks benefits, costs of higher education

Sen. Warner: Students, schools, businesses need to pursue creative options

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Former Virginia governor and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner paid a visit to Lynchburg to talk about the costs and benefits of higher education and what schools and communities can do to help students succeed.

Warner met with students and staff at E.C. Glass High School to commend Lynchburg City Schools on their efforts to help students navigate their academic futures. The nonprofit 'Beacon of Hope' partnered with Lynchburg City Schools to provide scholarships to students to get college credit during high school and attend local colleges after they graduate.

Student debt can be crippling for college graduates, but studies show that students on average who receive some form of higher education make about $1,000,000 more over the course of their careers.

Warner added that four-year college degrees aren't right for everyone, so he said it's time for educators to get more creative to help students reach their potential.

Warner had four suggestions:

1. Schools should use federal Pell Grants for students to get college credit before graduating high school. 

2. Companies should be able to use pretax dollars to help employees pay off student debt, not just go back to school.

3. College graduates should be able to repay their loans based on a percentage of their annual salaries.

4. Warner is also introducing new legislation, called The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2019, so families have more transparency when deciding where to attend college.

"They ought to know what the total costs are. They ought to know on average how long it takes to graduate. They ought to know by major what their chances of getting a job (are) and how much that job would pay," Warner said.

Warner said the challenge will be getting Congress to vote on the new bill, which he will push for once the Senate reconvenes.

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