Gov. wants to make college more affordable for VA students

Posted at 2:05 PM, Dec 15, 2011
and last updated 2012-02-23 15:06:03-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) - Governor Bob McDonnell unveiled a proposal Wednesday he said will help lower the cost of going to college in Virginia.

The governor said increasing higher education funding is one of the biggest goals for his administration.

McDonnell said a group of key state lawmakers in both houses worked on the plan t help reduce the debt burden for college students trying to survive in a tight economy. [BONUS: Read more about governor's plan]

"I think this sets the foundation now for the next 15 years in higher education,” said McDonnell.  "They unanimously set the goals that get us more productivity, more focused on jobs, more degrees in the right areas and more access to the american dream for these young people.”

As part of governor's proposed budget, he wants to set aside $100 million a year for students at state and private universities to help them prepare for top jobs.

Additionally, McDonnell said the money would help increase enrollment and make college degrees more affordable.

In fact, McDonnell said he wants to have 100,000 more students earning degrees over the next 15 years.

James Madison University President Linwood Rose said the governor's commitment to higher education is an economic engine for more jobs.

In addition, the governor's legislation will remove a $10 million budget reduction placed on public colleges and universities. That will allow the schools to return that money back into their operational budgets.

However, the governor is requiring state colleges to save 3 percent of their budgets in 2013 and 5 percent in 2014.

Then, they will have to come up with a plan to put those dollars back into classrooms, while cutting administrative overhead costs.

McDonnell will present his bi-annual budget to members of the General Assembly on Monday. The group will review the budget before they reconvene in January.

Virginia college bound students have seen tuition hikes at nearly every in state college over the past few years.