Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Pay It Forward: An update on national progress

Since December 2012, when Oregon legislators introduced the nation’s first Pay It Forward bill, the Economic Opportunity Institute has worked to build a national network of supporters, stakeholders, policy experts and legislators.

The Pay It Forward approach to tuition-free higher education has captured the nation’s imagination with hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times, Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal and the Seattle Times reporting on our march towards progress.

To date, Pay It Forward legislation has been introduced in 25 states and both chambers of Congress. EOI is the national hub of research, strategic counsel, legislative resources and grassroots support, propelling Pay It Forward into state and federal law.

Legislative victories in 2014

California: A study bill has passed out of the Assembly Higher Education Committee and awaits action in the Appropriations Committee.

Connecticut: A study bill is moving through the legislature and is expected to pass this session.

Illinois: There are four pieces of active Pay It Forward legislation in Illinois, one of which has passed through the House and awaits a vote in the Senate. The Legislature is still in session.

Maine: A resolution to study Pay It Forward has passed out of the Joint Committee on Education. The Legislature is still in session.

New Mexico: A study bill passed the House unanimously during the 2014 session. We hope to see the bill re-introduced in 2015.

New Jersey: A Pay It Forward study bill passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. Sponsors are committed to continuing to champion Pay It Forward.

Washington:  A Pay It Forward implementation bill to offer Pay It Forward at select high schools across the state passed out of the House Higher Education Committee with strong bipartisan support. Many legislators are eager to work on Pay It Forward over the interim and take up the bill again next session.

U.S. Congress:  Sen. Merkley’s legislation in the Senate to provide federal funding for state Pay It Forward programs was joined by a companion bill in the House, sponsored by Rep. Bonamici, in January.

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