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“Senator Warner’s reforms for student loan repayments make sense to me. “

Growing up in Richmond’s Jackson Ward, no matter what else was going on, my family always made sure to stress the value of an education. While we often times had to be careful about our budget, I believed that college was an investment in my future. It was a given that I would receive my college degree.

Today, I am a proud to be a senior at Virginia State University studying history. But as I look towards my future – graduation, jobs and whatever else – I am worried about the effort it will take to pay back my student loans and get my footing out under what is becoming a growing amount of debt. I am glad to see Senator Warner visiting Virginia State University today as well as other colleges across the Commonwealth this week to discuss the work he is doing to reform student debt.

Right now, a lot of my peers have had to drop out of school because they cannot afford to take on more loans or debt. I have made the decision to stay in school because it is the key to my future, but I do so knowing that I will have to spend years paying off my loans. Still, this should not be the case. College should be affordable for anyone seeking a higher education, and student loans should not be so difficult that it takes decades to eventually pay off.

Senator Warner’s reforms for student loan repayments make sense to me. As he spoke to us today he made a good point – why should we be able to easily refinance a mortgage, but not be able to re-finance our student loans? I think his bipartisan Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act to create a simple automated student loan repayment system based on income would help decrease a lot of the uncertainty and worry that comes with paying student loans off year after year.

Another idea that gives me hope is his initiative to allow employers to help employees pay their student debt. Using pre-tax dollars to pay off my debt would go a long way. It would be another tool in the toolbox that would allow hard-working graduates to better manage their student debt.

The decision to pay for college through student loans was not an easy one for me, but it was really my only option to attend college. I applaud Senator Warner’s willingness to listen to college students, hear their stories and actively find a solution to this problem of college affordability. It gives me hope not only for myself, but for my peers and for future generations of Virginian students that it will become easier to pay for college. It is time again that graduation is celebrated with a toss of your graduation cap, rather than marked by your first (of many) unmanageable bills in the mail.

Tobias E.
Richmond, Virginia


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