With lawmakers from across the Commonwealth convening in Richmond for the 2020 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly, our team is busy promoting efforts to hold down the high costs of higher education and student debt in Virginia.
Our team is encouraged by the sheer number of bills introduced this year that, if enacted, would improve transparency, accountability, and affordability at Virginia's public colleges and universities.
We are proud to work with a diverse group of lawmakers this year in advocating for these important reforms, building upon the successes we saw last year - including the statewide tuition freeze!
Here is a brief update on Partners' supported legislation--
In the wake of last year's tuition freeze at Virginia's public colleges and universities, Delegates Gilbert (262.50#3h), Reid (262.50#2h), and Poindexter (262.50#1h) have introduced budget amendments to repeat last year's effort to freeze in-state, undergraduate tuition by providing additional state funding for public institutions who opt-in voluntarily.
To ensure Virginia's students are better informed student loan borrowers, HB 743 (Bulova) would require private loan lenders to provide student loan advising information to students prior to issuing these loans. HB 743 passed the House unanimously on 1/31.
Partners is supporting several bill this year that would shed more light on the financial practices of public higher education, ensuring greater accountability for the use of state resources for the public interest.
These bills would enable better cost containment and better return on state investments by requiring reporting by program-level and academic discipline (HB 927- Coyner), increase foundation transparency by requiring expenditure reporting by category (HB 1223- Miyares), and ensure greater understanding on the effectiveness of the use of tuition revenue for financial aid (HB 1095- Miyares and SB 895- DeSteph).
To ensure that all members of Boards of Visitors - not just newly appointed members - are up-to-date on higher education best practices, HB 611 (Miyares) and SB 897 (DeSteph) would require ongoing training for existing board members. This legislation builds upon the new law championed by Delegate Miyares and Senator DeSteph last year that now requires governing board members to be trained on student debt trends. Both HB 611 and SB 897 passed unanimously out of their respective chambers and will now "crossover" into the other chamber to be considered.
To provide one-stop access to information regarding education pathways,career opportunities, and workforce development information available from agencies, institutions, and entities around the Commonwealth, Partners is supporting SB 363 (Dunnavant) to create the Virginia Works Portal. SB 363 was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations, where it will be heard today.