Long-term declines in state higher education funding and recent severe budget cuts are pushing college out of reach for middle class and low-income students. Facing stagnant household incomes, students and their families are forced to choose to either take on massive debt or shelve plans to attend college. Both options limit their potential economic mobility after graduation, as well as the Washington’s long-term economic productivity.
SHB 2720 creates Pay It Forward, a pragmatic and innovative new funding mechanism to increase college access, to the graduates of up to five Washington high schools.
- Increased access to higher education. By removing the barrier of upfront tuition, SHB 2720 incentivizes improved high school graduation rates, as well as increased enrollment, persistence, and completion of college degrees and certificates.
- A middle-class option. Pay It Forward combats the student loan crisis by providing an alternative to student loans, and supplements State Need Grant, College Bound Scholarship, and other college funding tools to offer college access to both unserved low-income and middle-class students.
- An answer to 21st-century workforce needs. Pay It Forward produces more workforce-ready college graduates that are unencumbered by student loan debt and interest payments, who have autonomy to choose their careers based on their skills, not based on the cost of their degree or the size of their paycheck.
- A smart investment in the future of higher education. The Pay It Forward Trust Fund becomes entirely sustained by graduates’ contributions within around 15 to 20 years, depending on the details of the particular program. A small investment now can provide college access for a steadily increasing number of students for years to come.
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