Senator Murray visits campus to hear from students about college affordability

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) visited Seattle Central’s campus late last month to participate in a roundtable with college students about the issue of college affordability. Joining her were Manuel Venegas and Salem Stafford, students at Seattle Central, and Karen Gamez, a student at Green River Community College.

Sen. Murray is working in the U.S. Senate to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, and she wanted to hear firsthand from students who have struggled to pay for college. Both Manuel and Karen are the first in their family to attend college, and all three students spoke about the difficulty of balancing work and family commitments in the face of rising tuition rates.

Sen. Murray and her fellow senators are considering several changes, such as simplifying the federal financial aid form (FAFSA); working to ensure colleges and universities can justify the loan burden of students given the jobs they are able to get after graduation, and other useful reforms.

Manuel will graduate this week with a degree in Business Administration and plans to transfer to the University of Washington to study International Business and Economics. As an HIV-positive young adult, he works to advocate for youth in local and national policies on HIV/AIDS. Salem returned to school 15 years after dropping out of high school. She earned a GED from Seattle Central and has started working toward an associate degree. She plans to transfer to the University of Washington to study Science and Informatics after she earns her degree.

Watch the video of the college affordability roundtable on Seattle Central’s YouTube channel.