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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sen. Murray gathers college debt stories to back higher ed bill

Murray (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Sen. Patty Murray, the co-author of the newly implemented federal education law, is turning her sights on higher education – specifically student loan debt.

On Tuesday, Murray unveiled a comment form on her website in hopes of learning of constituents’ personal stories to help influence legislation that could reduce college debt.

Murray said she wants to hear both the good and bad. The goal, she said, is to allow the stories to guide her work on the Higher Education Act, which Congress is due to reauthorize. She said she would use the stories she hears during floor speeches and hearings to advance the bill.

Murray is calling for the expanded use of Pell Grants and increased state funding. She also wants to change the law so students can refinance school loans.

“It’s not a simple, single answer,” said Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Because there is not a single, simple answer to why the cost of college went up.”

In 2014, college debt in the U.S. was more than $1.2 trillion. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, 58 percent of college graduates from universities in Washington owe an average of $24,804 upon graduation. Nationwide 70 percent of seniors who graduated from college (excluding for-profit colleges) had an average of $28,950 in debt.