• Sen. Murray meets with SVC students on legislation to make community college tuition free

    September 17, 2021
    U.S Sen. Patty Murray recently visited Skagit Valley College to meet with students and staff to hear how tuition-free community college would help them and the local community. 

    “As a former community college instructor at Shoreline Community College, I know how life-changing higher education can be for Washington state students and families,” said Sen. Murray, who serves as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “Every student deserves the same opportunity to get a higher education and have a shot at success – but for too long and for too many students across Washington state, pursuing higher education after high school or later in life has been out of reach or puts them in debt.”  

    SVC political science student, Gary Shelby, explained to Sen. Murray that investing in community colleges is an investment in the community. 
    “This is actually something that’s important and is meaningful,” said Shelby. “Free community college would be very helpful for myself and so many others.” 

    SVC nursing student, Adalis Castellanos, came to the U.S. three years ago and has been working to meet basic needs such as struggling to put gas in the car. 
    “Free community college is not just about one less bill – it’s about freedom for the future, and the freedom to choose where you want to be,” said Castellanos. “By receiving tuition free community college, I will no longer be concerned about the weight of student loan debt.” 

    In a March 2021 report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the current crisis of affordability has led to a steep college enrollment decline, particularly for students with low-incomes and students of color. As of fall 2020, high-minority and high-poverty high schools saw a 9.4 percent and 11.4 percent decline in college enrollment, respectively. And over the last 40 years, there has been the most growth in jobs requiring higher levels of job preparation, including education and training. Today, 70 percent of jobs are held by people with more than a high school degree.  

    Senator Murray’s America’s College Promise Act legislation will ensure that first-time students and workers wanting to reskill can enroll in a community college to earn a degree or credential for free. The America’s College Promise Act creates new federal-state partnerships that provide two years of tuition-free access to community or technical college programs and significant tuition and fee grant aid for two years at an eligible four-year historically Black college or university (HBCU) or minority-serving institution (MSI). 

    “We are so excited about Senator Murray’s proposal and this is something that means a lot to our college,” said State Rep. Dave Paul, Skagit Valley College’s Director of Community Relations. “We know that this would help our economy and that this legislation would allow the college to focus our resources on equity and achievement – like helping students with textbooks or child care and other costs of a college education.” 

    “Our community colleges expand access to higher education, provide opportunities to help workers gain skills and get jobs, and help students transition to four-year colleges,’ said Sen. Murray. “That’s why I’m working hard to ensure that the Build Back Better package includes key investments to make community college free.” 

    Equity in Access, Achievement, and Community 
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