By Lee Carter, Candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates (50th district)
The single most important step to making sure your voice is heard is to speak. You have to speak clearly and succinctly on issues that matter to you and to those you love, and you have to make sure that you’re speaking to the right audience. That’s why I was proud to take part in New Virginia Majority’s Day of Action on Monday. Together with hundreds of activists from across Virginia, we marched through the streets of Richmond to the General Assembly Building in order to make our voices heard.
Though we spoke on many issues, the one that I focused on impacts three out of every five students at Virginia’s colleges and universities – student loan debt. As the need for a college education in Virginia’s workforce has risen, so have the operating budgets of our public universities and the share of those budgets that are paid by tuition and fees. In 1990, just 11% of UVA’s budget was paid by the students, with nearly a quarter paid by tax revenues. Today the students pay nearly 20%, and the state just 5.5%.
This decline in state funding has given us a generation of students who enter the workforce saddled with fifty, sixty, even seventy thousand dollars in student loan debt. As they try to establish careers and families, they often find themselves unable to make ends meet, even if they’re able to find the high quality, high paying jobs that are in such short supply in today’s economy.
Is it any wonder, then, that young working Virginians lack the financial security that their parents had?
That’s why I was proud to stand with a group of students from across the Commonwealth who have taken that vital step of speaking up, as they urged Senator Creigh Deeds and Senator Barbara Favola to support legislation that will enable working Virginians to refinance their student loans to get access to lower rates and lower payments. That refinancing authority alone will not solve the problem, but it is a vitally important step to building a higher education system that truly serves the public, and prepares our young adults to enter the workforce.
So stand up and speak up. Together, we’ll get this done.
As a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, I want to know what issues matter to you. I can be reached by email at Lee@CarterForVirginia.com
Lee Carter is a United States Marine, a holder of student loan debt, and a Candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. He is running in the 50th District, which encompasses the City of Manassas and portions of Prince William County.