Oregon Passes Free Tuition Bill For College Students

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Devoted parents in Oregon may be able to take an extra vacation this year, using the money they have been saving for their children’s college tuition now that the “Pay It Forward” Project has been introduced and welcomed unanimously by Oregon legislators.

The “Pay It Forward” program offers incoming college students free tuition at Oregon state universities  during the course of their studies. In return, once students graduate, they are obligated to have 3% of their paychecks subsidized to fund the education of newer high school graduates.

Oregon will be the first state to offer such a program that promises to relieve the burden of new graduates who find themselves drowning in debt.  According to a recent study by the New York Federal Reserve, the number of graduates who are 90 days in default on their student loan payments  has jumped from 8.5 percent to 11.7 percent.

The pilot program, set to launch by 2015, is the brainchild of a group of Portland State University students who collaborated with Oregon Working Families and Jubilee USA in the fall of 2012 to create solutions to student loan debt. Their ideas were aggressively pushed to gain the attention of Oregon legislature and on July 1st  of this year, Oregon legislators voted to pass the bill, HB 3472. The bill will be signed into law by Governor John Kitzaber later this month.

Steve Hughes, the state director of the Oregon Working Family Party said, “We need  to fundamentally alter how we think about education. This is the first step to doing it.”



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