Earlier today, Oregon took a bold step in addressing the state’s student debt crisis. The Higher Education Coordinating Committee (HECC) unanimously voted to recommend the Pay It Forward pilot to the 2015 legislature. Todays vote kicked off Oregon Working Families’ campaign to pass a pilot program next year.
Karly Edwards, Oregon Working Families Deputy Director, said: “We applaud the HECC for their work and for recognizing the need to make public higher education accessible to working-class and middle-class Oregonians. We look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure that a pilot program for Pay It Forward is created in the upcoming session.”
This summer, the Working Families Party announced its support for 53 candidates for office, including Governor Kitzhaber, who won the WFP nomination over his support for the Pay It Forward plan. Every Working Families Party nominated candidate has spoken in support of Pay It Forward.
Oregon House District 40, Rep. Brent Barton said, “Today’s decision is a step toward addressing Oregon’s underinvestment in higher education. I’m looking forward to enacting the Pay It Forward pilot and making college more accessible.”
Students are not the only ones feeling the impact of outrages student loan debt. Working-class and middle-class parents are struggling to help their children pay off their student loan debt and it’s affecting the economy. Graduates cannot participate in economy sustaining investment such as buying a home because of their large student loan payments. Worse, many Oregonians are being priced out of an education altogether as families think twice before taking on unmanageable debt to pay for school.
Pay It Forward is an innovative solution to traditional student loans, which first made waves last year when legislators unanimously voted on a study bill that instructed the HECC to develop a pilot program. Under the program the state would cover the costs of tuition and fees in exchange for a small percentage of the students’ future wages.