Virginia Bill Would Offer Forgivable Loans to Some Community College Students

A Republican proposal would allow single parents pursuing “high-demand” fields at Virginia community colleges to apply for a forgivable loan.
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  • Proposed legislation would offer forgivable loans to some Virginia community college students.
  • Students need to be single parents with a household income of less than 250% the federal poverty level to be eligible.
  • The legislation would require students to agree to study for a "high-demand" occupation.
  • Students would also be required to work in their field in Virginia for at least five years.

New legislation in Virginia would offer forgivable loans to certain community college students who agree to work in "high-demand" fields.

Virginia House Bill 1439, pre-filed by state Rep. Timothy Anderson (R-Virginia Beach), would create a highly targeted loan forgiveness program centered around single parents. The legislation would allow students to apply for a "conditionally forgivable loan" from their community college to cover the tuition, fees, textbooks, and course materials.

The Virginia Office of Education Economics keeps a yearly list of "high-demand" occupations. The 2021-2022 list included a wide variety of jobs — from preschool teachers to highway maintenance workers.

Students would need to be a single parent with a household income of less than 250% of the federal poverty level in order to get the forgivable loans, according to the pre-filed bill.

Students who fit that criteria would need to agree to study for a degree that would lead to a "high-demand occupation" and stay employed within Virginia for at least five years in order for their loan to be forgiven under Anderson's proposal. Students would also need to earn their degree or certificate within 30 months of their initial enrollment at a community college.

If a student doesn't meet those conditions, they would need to repay the full loan amount in a lump sum seven years after the conditions aren't met, according to the legislation. Additionally, community colleges would be able to “request reimbursement for the forgiven amount from the General Assembly,” the bill reads.

The Virginia General Assembly will open its regular legislative session on Jan. 11. Lawmakers are set to consider other bills with an effect on students — including legislation that would limit the practice of transcript withholding in the state.