What started as a student project at Portland State University has quickly become the new way Oregon residents may attend free college without taking on student debt. In place of the traditional loan method of college payment, students under this new program will attend free college and then pay back a percentage of their future salary to the state.
What makes this plan so vastly different than the current college payment system is that graduating students will pay different amounts based on their financial situation. A highly paid banker, for instance, would pay more money than a struggling writer. As it stands currently, students are expected to pay back student debt in a timely manner no matter what their post-college circumstances entail.
A group of students designed the program together while taking a class titled “Student Debt: Economics, Policy and Advocacy.” The students presented their no-tuition approach to numerous Oregon officials including state representative Michael Dembrow. Amazingly, in under a year the college plan was accepted as a viable way to enroll students without bankrupting the University or the state.
No-tuition policies like this one exist at select schools in Australia, but nowhere in America has this financial method been attempted.
The next step for the program is to design and implement a pilot program. The challenge the program now faces is drumming up economic support for funding. In theory, the later funding from students in the program would recover the costs, but until an initial investment is reached, the program can’t move forward.
Has anyone considered taking out a loan?