Innovative Legislation in Oregon

Pay_It_Forward_Logo_Two_HandsHB 3472 has been passed unanimously by the Oregon Legislature.  It would radically alter how students would pay for college.

Called “Pay It Forward”, it would eliminate tuition, fees, and student debt.  Instead, anyone who attended college would be required to pay a smallpercentage of their post-college income as a tax for 24 years (0.75% per year attended at community college; 1% per year attended at 4-year college).  This tax would fund free college for subsequent generations of students.  If after graduation you have no income, you pay nothing; with a low income, you pay a small amount; if you become a corporate CEO, you will be paying much more than what tuition would have been.  There are no more student loans, there is no more tuition.  It’s not so different from what some other countries (e.g. Australia) do.  Read more about the Oregon law at

The law, initially proposed by the Working Families Party, directs an agency of the state to develop a pilot program for 2015.  What do you think about something like this for Massachusetts?  Maybe an idea to be considered by the newly-created Student Debt Subcommittee of the Legislature’s Higher Education Committee?

But some argue that this is not really progressive if it exacerbates the trend of seeing higher education as a private good, of benefit only to the individual, rather than a public good, with economic and civic benefits to the whole society?  Read a very interesting critique from the American Federation of Teachers.