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Oregon Looks at New Ways to Fund College


While the student debt crisis remains a hot-button issue on a national scale, Oregon lawmakers have come up with a novel idea for funding higher education: Have students pay a small percentage of their salary over the span of many years.

The Wall Street Journal tells us the plan is called “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back.” The idea is to make a fund that students can use and pay into instead of reverting to traditional lending options with increasing rates. 

Oregon legislators propose borrowing $9 billion or so to start off the program, but hope for it to someday become self-sustaining, the newspaper says.

The state’s Senate unanimously approved a bill (already passed by the House) last week that forms a committee tasked with creating a pilot program for the plan. Lawmakers will wait a couple years before deciding whether or not to enact the pilot program.

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A nonprofit think tank called the Economic Opportunity Institute originally came up with the plan, which is being discussed by legislators in Washington, Vermont, New York, California and Pennsylvania.

“It is time to radically rethink how Washington finances its public colleges and universities, so the American Dream stays within reach of every student willing to put in the time and effort to succeed in school,” The Economic Opportunity Institute says in a report about the funding plan.

You can read more about the “Pay It Forward” approach on the nonprofit’s website.

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What do you think of Oregon’s plan to fund higher education? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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(Photo credit: Economic Opportunity Institute)

Jennifer Wadsworth
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