RICHMOND – Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12) today announced proposed reforms to Virginia’s two-year and four-year higher education systems to increase affordability, reduce time to graduation and streamline enrollment. The legislation would ensure core curriculum credits at all community colleges are standardized, interchangeable and accepted at Virginia’s four-year institutions. Administered by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), dual enrollment classes will be aligned with the Passport curriculum so that they too can be accepted for higher degree required credits. Additionally, Dunnavant proposes moving remediation testing to high school for any student planning to get a standard diploma after graduation. Finally, Dunnavant will propose a budget amendment for the Joint Committee for Future Competitiveness of Higher Education to develop a strategic financial plan for higher education to address the rising costs of degree attainment and tuition.
“It is time we refreshed how we approach enrollment in Virginia’s two-year and four-year colleges so that we are better serving students by streamlining degrees and enrollment in the two systems,” said Dunnavant. “The legislation I’m proposing would help to reduce the cost of higher education for families, help better prepare high school for higher education, and reduce the time it takes to get a degree. Our community college system is the pathway to the essential middle level degrees that prepare the workforce we need for a vibrant economy. It’s also an affordable pathway to a baccalaureate or other higher degree, and by making sure our two systems are uniform students can keep costs in check by making sure the credits they get count toward their degree. And, to get higher education spending under control, we are going to look at the trajectory of degrees Virginia’s schools are offering and where tuition is going. Ultimately our goal is to make it easier to enroll in higher education classes in Virginia and be set up on a path to success.” SB 631 will standardize core curriculum classes between all of Virginia’s community colleges so that classes and degrees are uniform, and ensure that these core curriculum classes will be accepted by Virginia’s four-year universities. Going forward, students enrolling in classes at Virginia’s community colleges will register through a single portal for all schools. Additionally, dual enrollment classes between high schools and community colleges will be standardized so students know credits earned will count toward a degree. Finally, the legislation will commission SCHEV to map out degree pathways so there is clear transparency about how to earn the degree a student is seeking and avoid taking unneeded courses. SB 713 will direct high schools to offer the remediation test students take upon enrolling in a community college. Students will now be able to take it before graduation without having to pay for the test and receive remediation while in high school.
Through a budget amendment, the General Assembly will direct SCHEV to develop a strategic financial plan for higher education. This study will look at the the degrees Virginia’s high institutions are offering, workforce needs, rising tuition costs, student debt burden and successful employment after graduation. The study will outline a multi-year plan to improve affordability.