Sen. Warner is dedicated to making sure that every Virginian has access to quality educational opportunities and job training that will help them succeed in our rapidly changing economy. After paying for his own undergraduate education with student loans, Sen. Warner understands the challenge of affording higher education, and is focused on relieving the burden of student debt in America. He has worked hard to make higher education more affordable and expand workforce training programs and will continue to work hard to create more opportunities for Virginians.
Over 44 million Americans face student loan debt, making it one of the largest consumer debt categories. Total student loan debt in the U.S. is now more than $1.5 trillion. Sen. Warner paid his own way through school, and recognizes that the challenge of affording higher education is even greater now, and principal in the mind of many Americans. In the Senate, Warner introduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2019, to help students and their families access a wide range of comparative data to see the full cost of pursuing a college education. In 2014, Sen. Warner introduced bipartisan legislation to make it easier for students to refinance college loans and switch to income-based repayment options. As Governor and as a member of the Senate, Mark has also worked to reinvigorate the senior year of high school by promoting expanded access to college-level courses and workforce training programs.
Sen. Warner worked to include a bi-partisan employer repayment bill as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill incentivizes employers to make tax-free contributions toward education expenses for their employees.
In 2019, Sen. Warner and a bi-partisan coalition fought to save funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with the FUTURE Act. This important legislation restored $4 million in funding for HBCUs in Virginia, and $255 million in funding nationwide. These schools are the foundation of America’s higher education system, and serve millions of talented students across the country. Passing this legislation was an investment in our future leaders.
In a rapidly changing economy, Virginia needs to ensure that people have the job skills necessary to compete and succeed. A four-year college education is not the right choice for every student, and Mark has worked as Governor and as a U.S. Senator to expand access to qualified worker training and certification programs. He turned abandoned warehouses into job development centers in some of the Commonwealth’s most financially distressed communities, and his commitment to workforce training earned him a spot in the Virginia Career and Technical Education Hall of Fame.
In 2019, Sen. Warner introduced the Investing in American Workers Act, which would create a tax credit for businesses who invest in skill trainings for their employees, and the Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act, which would create savings accounts with a government match to support works seeking to retrain or upskill during their careers, increasing the accessibility of lifelong learning for low- and moderate-income workers.
As Governor, Mark Warner created grant programs to help localities provide greater access to qualified early childhood education programs, and strengthened child care center standards. He has continued to fight for grant funding for early childhood education in the commonwealth as a Senator.
Under then-Gov. Warner’s leadership, Virginia’s education system made enormous gains through innovative reform initiatives that enlisted community support to help students, parents, teachers and schools that were academically challenged. Gov. Warner launched initiatives to mentor young teachers, promote more stable staffing in challenged rural and inner city schools, and equipped talented school administrators with special training and tools to begin turning- around failing schools. Gov. Warner’s 2004 successful bipartisan budget and tax reforms provided the largest increase in K-12 educational support in Virginia’s history.