Students in Oregon just got some really good news. Pay It Forward – EOI’s plan to restore college access by replacing tuition with income-based contributions made after graduation – took a major step forward on Thursday, when the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) officially adopted a Pay It Forward pilot plan and recommended it to the Oregon Legislature.
Under the pilot, Pay It Forward would be offered to 4,000 students a year: a mix of community college and university students, including 1,000 graduates of select high schools each year. These students would pay no tuition upfront; instead, after graduating, university students would contribute 4% of their income, and community college students 1.5%, to a public trust fund for a period of 20 years.
Graduates’ monthly contributions would be much lower than today’s typical loan payments. And after 23 years, their contributions would make Pay It Forward self-funding – something legislators facing increasing pressure on public revenue will undoubtedly welcome. Now the ball is in the Oregon Legislature’s court, which will investigate how to fund the start-up costs.
Pay It Forward legislation has gained significant traction in the months since Oregon legislators unanimously passed the nation’s first Pay It Forward study bill in July 2013: legislation has been introduced in 24 other states so far – half of the country! Six other states have studies similar to Oregon’s now or soon underway. That momentum is an undeniable testament to the need for this country to rebuild ladders of opportunity – like access to higher education – for every hard-working student looking for a shot at the American Dream.
When Oregon’s HECC appointed a workgroup to study and develop a Pay It Forward pilot, EOI staffers were tapped to help lead the effort. We’ve been hard at work for nine months helping craft Oregon’s Pay It Forward pilot, and we’re proud to be part of the team making it happen.