“The United States has a third of the world’s colleges and universities and nearly all its best teachers” proclaims John D Kasarda. With these words I feel great pride in American higher education and abject sorrow concerning the student-loan crisis. The United States might have the best schools in the world, but increasingly costly bachelor’s degrees are out of reach for widening swathes of America’s middle class. Those who can still afford college are often drowned in debt, forced into jobs they hate just to pay the bills.
This endemic problem must be solved; it is in Oregon that we find a likely solution.
Under the “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back” plan, students in Oregon public universities and community colleges can pay their tuition by promising three percent of their future incomes in the twenty-four year period following graduation. No money down, no strings attached. Everyone benefits. Students of the humanities and other frugal majors will be able to rest easy and be able to pursue their passions without nightmares of debt. Those pursuing lucrative careers will have drastically fewer rivals, jobs will be easier to obtain. Unemployed beneficiaries of this program will not have decades of credit-scores ruined, they will have not debt to haunt them. And the specter of student-loan debt is banished, giving a new era of financial freedom for America’s youth.
Education is the cornerstone of the American Dream, in Oregon that glorious promise is rekindled for the twenty-first century.
The bill erecting the pilot program for “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back” was elected unanimously by Oregon’s state legislature on July 1, 2013. They will evaluate the program and vote again in 2015, to improve it and provide a role model for the rest of the country. One little state has kept the flame of the American Dream alive, imagine what fifty states could do. Or even a functional federal government.