‘Pay It Forward’ Plan In Oregon Would Make Tuition Free At State’s Public Universities
By STEVEN DUBOIS 07/03/13 07:32 PM ET EDT

PORTLAND, Ore. — On college campuses across the United States, the eternal optimism of youth has been throttled out by a fear of crushing student debt. That’s certainly the case in Oregon, where the cost of tuition has soared as public funding for higher education has declined.

But the state Legislature this week approved an idea that might ease the economic dread for future philosophy and art history majors. The concept – called Pay It Forward – calls for students to attend public universities tuition free and loan free. In exchange, students would have 3 percent deducted from their post-graduation paychecks for about a quarter-century. The money would go into a fund to pay for future students.

The bill, which passed unanimously and is expected to be signed this month by Gov. John Kitzhaber, directs the state’s Higher Education Coordination Commission to develop a Pay It Forward pilot project for consideration by the 2015 Legislature. One question that must be resolved is how to fund the program’s start-up costs, estimated at $9 billion, since the initial students who attend tuition-free would be years away from entering the labor force.

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