Affordable Access: Educating Virginians for Top Jobs and Incomes in the Knowledge-Based Economy

“My focus is our higher education system, but the subject is really much broader.  It’s about the future of Virginia as a thriving community, a growing economy, and a place where people from diverse regions and backgrounds, with varied interests and abilities, can live fulfilling, prosperous lives.”

– Former Attorney General Bob McDonnell


With a daughter who graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and one currently enrolled at James Madison University, Bob understands the challenges facing parents and students seeking a high quality education at Virginia’s colleges and universities.

Virginia is among the top ten states in per capita income and around the top ten in various measures of educational attainment.  We have long enjoyed an exceptional higher education system, with institutions that routinely receive high national rankings.  Our progress, according to these and other measures, has been most impressive.  However, it is not enough to set a new floor; we also must promote excellence and opportunity by lifting our sights and raising the ceiling.

The Virginia Business Higher Education Council recently reported in a survey that more than 75% of Virginians believe a college degree now is essential in order to succeed in the knowledge-based economy.  Yet, currently, only about 35% of college-age Virginians are enrolling in a four-year or community college, and only about 42% of working-age Virginians have college degrees.

Not only do our colleges and community colleges prepare young people for the good jobs and high incomes of the future, but they also provide the new skills that adults need to stay well-employed in the fast-changing economy. They play a vital role in our economic development programs that attract new, job-producing businesses to every region of our state. Our colleges also partner with business on research that creates new discoveries, new jobs, and a substantial return on investment.

Bob’s Plan for Higher Education

Bob McDonnell is running for Governor because he wants to help bring strong and sustainable economic opportunity and expansion to every part of our state—with good jobs, and rewarding careers, and good and growing incomes for all Virginians. He knows we cannot achieve that in today’s high-tech economy unless we raise the level of educational attainment in the Commonwealth.

Initiatives To Cut Down On Cost of Textbooks

Over the past decade the cost of tuition and fees at our colleges and universities has more than doubled. On top of that, parents and students shell out thousands of dollars for textbooks over the course of a college education. With one daughter who just finished graduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University, another at James Madison University, and two rising seniors in high school, Maureen and Bob are no strangers to the high costs of college textbooks. We need to look for innovative programs and practices that will reduce the costs of textbooks for Virginia parents and students, especially in this tough economy.