Senator Patty Murray Announces College Affordability Bill at Col - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Senator Patty Murray Announces College Affordability Bill at Columbia Basin College

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PASCO, WA. -- The cost of college tuition continues to rise each year and it's making it nearly impossible for some people to get a degree. 

One of our Senators from Washington State is trying to change that by proposing a new bill in Washington D.C. to help.

Senator Patty Murray is now the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. She's using that position to try to make a real change in our education system. Last week Senator Murray proposed a bill named the, "In The Red Act".

Wednesday, a group of local students stood in support of her proposed legislation. 

At Columbia Basin Community College Wednesday morning, Senator Patty Murray promised to do her best to change out of control college tuition costs. 

"I want you to know that this is a top priority for me that I'm going to be working on in the U.S. Senate," Senator Murray said. 

Several students shared personal stories about their struggles to get higher education, including Selene Zapata. 

"We graduated from Sunnyside High School," Zapata said. "When I graduated from high school, I got offered a full ride to go to Boise State which I could not take because I wasn't a permanent resident. So I couldn't go to college."

Her parents were farm workers so they couldn't afford college. Decades later, she's now a single parent with two boys who will be taking college classes at the same time as her, because Selene has decided to reach for her dream at Heritage University, studying to be a math teacher. But she has to work two jobs to do it. 

"Having two kids in college and having a little one, it was a tough decision but I knew it was worth it," Zapata said. "And I still worry about paying my basic bills."

Senator Murray says her legislation will allow student loan borrowers to refinance outstanding debt at lower rates, increase Pell Grants to keep pace with rising costs, and make a new investment in community colleges like CBC. 

Murray is passionate about education, inspired by her own personal story. 

"My dad was diagnosed with M-S when I was just a teenager," Sen. Murray said. "There's 7 kids in our family and we literally thought, we will never be able to afford to go to college. But back at that time there was student loans, Pell grants, work study and a country that was behind us. So I got my degree at WSU, all 6 of my brothers and sisters followed and were able to get their degrees because their country was at our back."

Wednesday, these local student are standing in support of Senator Murray, hoping that her plan can make opportunities more available to everyone who wants to achieve their dreams. 

In the last ten years alone, the average amount a college graduate in Washington State owes has gone up from $17,400 to $24,800. 

If you want more information about Senator Murray's plan, click here: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsreleases?ContentRecord_id=06048EDC-A867-40F2-B217-101FA8A00E78

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