Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

New Jersey and Pennsylvania Join the Pay It Forward Movement

Today, state senators in  two states – New Jersey and Pennsylvania – announced plans to introduce Pay It Forward bills in their state legislatures.

In Pennsylvania, Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) cited rising costs and burdensome debt for students and families as his call to action.

“Today’s economy presents a unique set of challenges that college graduates have never had to face before,” Leach said. “I believe it is our duty to give students options and make obtaining a degree more flexible and accessible. Students shouldn’t have to be forever indebted to lenders to earn their education. I believe this landmark legislation would give Pennsylvania’s graduates a chance to enter their careers free from the burden of staggering debt and soaring interest rates.”

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) of New Jersey, along with Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-Cumberland) head of the Higher Education Committee, are introducing a bill to establish a seven-member commission that will study Pay It Forward and evaluate a potential pilot program.

“When kids are getting out of college, they’re buried in debt,” Sweeney said. “It gives another pathway to higher education. As someone who didn’t go to college and recognizes how fortunate I am that things worked out for me, you don’t want to leave things up to luck.”

The Pay It Forward bills in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are in addition to those already passed or being discussed in Oregon, Ohio and Washington. In total, ten states have expressed interest in Pay It Forward and four U.S. senators are working on federal assistance for states implementing the debt-free degree proposal.

By EOI intern Elissa Goss

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