The Oregon Legislature approved a plan this week that could allow students to go to state universities for free. Students would pay the state back through a percentage of their future income after enjoying tuition-free education.
It started less than a year ago at Portland State University in a class called “Student Debt: Economics, Policy and Advocacy,” taught by Barbara Dudley and Mary King. A group of students were given the idea of a no-tuition system by the executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, John Burbank.
Their project for the semester was based around this concept and called “Pay Forward, Pay Back.” They were able to present the idea to state lawmakers, and after debating the proposition, they approved the plan, and the final vote will be in the State Senate on Monday.
With a growing concern about the rising costs of higher education, this plan may be a fresh approach to a daunting problem. This program is the first of its kind to be used in the United States, even though it has been implemented in Australia. This plan offers a solution to the rising debt of students in the U.S. now that student loan rates have been doubled.
However, the plan is only broadly scoped out. If approved, it will not go into effect for a few years. The program can have a price tag of up to $9 billion. Details haven’t been figured out yet, but students would have to pay the state back at an average rate of 3 percent of their annual income for up to 24 years.
Whether you agree with this method or not, it is an attempt to solve problems within our higher education system. In my opinion, it allows students to focus on the quality of their education opposed to whether or not they’ll be able to afford it.