by David Safier
Oregon is developing an innovative way to make state colleges more affordable. It's called Pay It Forward.
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.
Ideally, state higher education should be nearly free. When I attended the University of California in the 60s, tuition was, I remember, under $50 a semester. State colleges were less, and community colleges [called city colleges in CA] were free. That's the citizenry paying it forward by investing in the young adults who are the future of the state and the country. But that kind of financial commitment from states isn't going to happen any time soon, and this is a very decent second-best solution for grads instead of burdening them with huge debts.
If you graduate college and can't find work, or can only find low wage work, or want to start a business that will pay you little or nothing for awhile, you're only going to pay back 3% of little or nothing until your income raises. What a boon that would be to the English, History and Art majors who know they're unlikely to make enough money to justify huge loans. Likewise the graduate who wants to work in a low paying job with greater personal satisfaction (and possibly more positive social impact) rather than a higher paying job where they may end up selling their souls to pay off their loans. These folks won't have to defer their loans to be paid later. After about 25 years of paying 3% of their income, no matter how high or how low, they've paid off their debt.
Meanwhile, people who make big money will pay 3% of big money. But if for any reason the money stops pouring in, they'll pay 3% of their lowered income.
Sounds good to me.