More students seeking help managing college costs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

More students seeking help managing college costs

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PASCO, Wash. -- Columbia Basin College's Student Tuition Easy Payment Plan also known as "STEPP" is not new, but this program which is designed to help students better manage their tuition has seen a huge increase since the school announced tuition hikes.

Classes begin Monday September 19th at CBC. What that means is students have to register for their classes, buy books, and sort out how they're going pay for school.

"I'm expecting something really big, so I brought a lot of money just in case just so I can pay for this," explains Thelma Jimenez, a CBC freshman.

Jimenez works eight to ten hours a week to earn enough to pay for her classes. She didn't know about "STEPP," but says she may consider the program, "just some classes here and there, but I'm paying out of pocket too, like books, gas, driving here."

"We've probably gone up in numbers on the "STEPP" program by about 500 already for fall," explains Jennifer Brady of Columbia Basin College.

In 2010, the program had 1489 students on the first day of school. Currently there are 1500 enrolled and it's a week before the first day. This is how "STEPP" works, say you're enrolled at 15 credits which would cost $1,201.65.  Under the program, that amount would be divided into 3, add a one time $25.00 fee and the first payment would be $425.55 and after that $400.55.

"Like on tuition due date, I will say probably 90 percent of those students went on the "STEPP" program rather than pay in full," says Brady.

Students who don't have to rely on the program like Krystal Ford are counting their blessings, "I feel really fortunate because there's a lot of people who don't have that option depending on how much their parents make and stuff."

Students make payments three times, each month in the quarter.