Gov. McDonnell promises $50 million for higher education

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell is promising future college students what he calls a "down payment" of $50 million in state funding.

That money will go towards lowered tuition, more financial aid, and more course options for two- and four-year schools. Getting a college education could get easier for future students.

McDonnell and his bi-partisan commission want to see a 100,000 more college degrees earned in the next 15 years.

"We've had a deal for a while, the state hasn't kept that, we need to do better," said McDonnell.

Problem is, the price of a college education has become too expensive.

"Tuition's doubled every 10 years and it's just not acceptable," said McDonnell. So the new legislation is aimed to change the landscape of higher education.

First, by getting colleges and universities to enroll more students and then getting students interested in subjects like science and engineering that will make them money after college.

"The state's got to do its part but I expect more out of the universities the boards and presidents also, more innovative more efficient and just come up with better ideas to increase access," said McDonnell.

Secondly, the governor aims to reform teaching methods to include more online courses, night classes, and internet text books for example.

And thirdly, McDonnell wants to make college more affordable by offering more financial aid, and lowering costs with better loan programs.

It's what this group of college lobbyists wants most.

"What is keeping a lot of people from going to college right now is they fear of coming out of college with too much student loan to pay off," said Brittany Burns, a senior at Old Dominion University.

"I think it's definitely a fear during this sort of economic time you see a squeeze in the middle class sort of students getting stuck being not qualified for financial aid and not being able to afford it on themselves," said John Beyer, second year student at Piedmont Virginia Community College Sophomore.

So where will the $50 million come from?

McDonnell says money from the 2, 4, and 6 percent state spending cuts and an uptake in revenue.

"I'm not going to put anything in place and just not fund it," said McDonnell. Governor McDonnell will now go to the General Assembly to okay his plans for higher education.

McDonnell will further break down the finances of this $50 million "Top Jobs" legislation in his budget recommendations on December 17.

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