Oregon Considers Novel Funding Plan for State Colleges

Oregon, like most states one struggling with how to fund public colleges, has an interesting idea. According to an article by Douglas Belkin in the Wall Street Journal:

Oregon’s legislature is moving ahead with a plan to enable students to attend state schools with no money down. In return, under one proposal, the students would agree to pay into a special fund 3% of their salaries annually for 24 years.

The plan, called “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back,” would create a fund that students would draw from and eventually pay into—potentially bypassing traditional education lenders and the interest rates they charge. The state would likely borrow for the fund’s seed money, which could exceed $9 billion, but the program’s designers intend it to become self-sustaining.

On Monday Oregon’s Senate unanimously approved a bill that would develop a pilot program for the policy. In 2015, if the current bill is approved, the legislature would decide whether or not to begin the pilot program at some schools in the state.

The Oregon Working Families Party, which helped create the policy, says Pay It Forward “ will provide access for all Oregonians to a debt-free degree and protect funding for public higher education.”

Read more about the “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back” plan here.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer