NORFOLK -- With the start of the new school year, many college students find themselves drowning in debt.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) spoke at Old Dominion University on Tuesday, saying the nation must do something about what he calls the student debt crisis. He talked about ways to make college more affordable and stressed it's an issue that politicians in all parties need to work to solve.

Warner noted that student debt is surpassing credit card debt at $1.2 trillion and stated that the average student graduates from college with $30,000 in debt.

Senator Warner said he paid for college using student loans.

He touted legislation he's introduced to deal with student debt, including the Student Right to Know Before You Act. It would increase the transparency of colleges' performances. he also said the Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Actt would create a streamlined and automatic income-based repayment system that helps borrowers pay back their debt at a more affordable and manageable pace.

Warner says much legislation he supports is bi-partisan.

Warner is up for reelection in November. He's running against Republican Ed Gillespie and Libertarian Ed Sarvis.

Gillespie campaign spokesman Paul Logan countered, 'Mark Warner's had nearly six years in the Senate to address the problem of growing student debt and the anemic economy. Instead, he's voted with President Obama 97 percent of the time, which has left Virginians feeling squeezed between lost jobs or stagnant wages and skyrocketing health care costs and higher energy prices. Ed Gillespie's plan for economic growth will ease the squeeze on hard-working Virginians by creating jobs, raising take-home pay, holding down health care costs, reducing energy prices, and making it easier for college grads to find a job, as 44 percent of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed.'

In an email Tuesday, Gillespie says Virginia needs a change because Warner voted with President Barack Obama 97 percent of the time.

In his ad, Gillespie says, 'I'll be a check on President Obama, not a blank check for him.'

Warner responded by saying he's an independent thinker who seeks bipartisan solutions and he's happy to put his record against anybody.

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