Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Pay It Forward legislative update: February 25, 2015

Photo credit: Sean Flynn/Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit: Sean Flynn/Flickr Creative Commons

The opportunity for higher education is a cornerstone of our democracy and our economy. But cuts in public budgets have resulted in skyrocketing tuition at public institutions, and student debt across the nation has reached untenable levels. The current model of high tuition and high debt is keeping many low- and middle-income kids out of college — and unable to get in, or stay in, the middle class.

Building on our 2015 Legislative Agenda, EOI has set out the following policy goal for 2015:

Make college more accessible by promoting the “Pay It Forward” alternative to the broken debt-financing model for higher education. Under Pay It Forward, students attend college tuition-free and instead contribute a small, fixed percentage of their income for a set numbers of years after they graduate. Their contributions go to a trust fund which within a generation is completely sustained by graduates’ contributions – creating a community of responsibility and security around higher education for generations to come.

Progress: Pay It Forward bills have been introduced in 26 states over the last two years. Here in Washington, House Bill 1344 and Senate Bill 5335 would offer Pay It Forward to nursing graduate students in order to increase the number of much-needed nurse educators and strengthen our healthcare system at the same time. HB 1344 was heard in the House Committee on Higher Education in late January, and passed out of committee in early February; it has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee. SB 5335 was heard in the the Senate Committee on Higher Education in early February, it was not passed out of committee in time for continued discussion/review.

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