Virginia Republican proposes forgiveness for some community college student loans

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Republican delegate from Virginia Beach is proposing a bill that would allow some community college students to get fully forgivable loans — but only in certain fields facing shortages.

The bill, HB 1439, was pre-filed by Timothy Anderson (R-Virginia Beach) ahead of the General Assembly’s January session.

Although student loan forgiveness is mostly associated with Democrats, especially in the wake of President Biden’s stalled push for broad loan forgiveness, Anderson’s proposal charts out a narrower version that would set up a forgiveness program for some future community college loans.

In essence, it would require all of the commonwealth’s community college systems to set up programs offering forgivable loans covering “the full cost of tuition, mandatory fees, and required textbooks.”

But the loans would only be available to people who meet certain requirements: they must be single parents making less than 250% of the federal poverty level ($45,775 for a two-person household in 2022), pursue a degree in a “high-demand field” (view those for 2021-2022 here), and agree to work in that field in Virginia for at least five years after graduation.

After those five years, the community college system would be required to forgive the full amount of the loan — for which they would be compensated by the General Assembly. For reference, the average tuition for a public community college in Virginia is $3,736 a year.