College is an expense many need help affording, but a new program called Pay It Forward aims to end the struggle over paying such high costs.
The program works to have people pay for college when they can afford it and over a long time period.
The cost of tuition would be covered while attending a college; students would still pay for room and board, textbooks and other living expenses. But once graduated, the past student would pay either 0.75 percent for community college or 1 percent for universities of their yearly income four times a year to their alma mater for 20 to 25 years.
The program was created by the Economic Institute in order to benefit the next generations and make school affordable for everyone. Currently this idea has been passed in Oregon, and will begin a trial run in two schools starting next year.
In Washington state, Rep. Larry Seaquist has agreed to sponsor the program if it is pushed into the 2014 legislative session.
However, there are still a lot of aspects of the program that are unsure. In order to begin, the state legislature would need to vote in agreement to it. If voted, there are likely to be many changes made to the original plan.
Some parts that could change include whether all schools and students would be mandated to participate or if it would be optional; as well as how the money would be taken out of salaries whether in a tax or another method. To watch the payment, the Internal Revenue Service would need to track the participants in case people move out of state, but there is not an agreement set up currently where they would.
These aspects have not been solved because the program is still relatively new and does not have a large following behind it. Some are unsure about the idea because how much a person pays back to their school is based off of their income, not how much tuition would have cost them.
The program was not created to pay off tuition, but to help others and make the college tuition system self-sufficient.
“This program is not just affecting us who are in school,” Legislative Senator Brain McQuay Jr. said. “It will help out families and the generations after. It allows those with low income to go to college and make their lives better.”
Although the program only pays college tuition, the options of financial aid, scholarships and loans will still be available to students. In the future, a person will only pay back their school when fully employed.
If an individual becomes unemployed, the payments will stop until a regular salary is in place. This is a major benefit for those in the program because, unlike loans, there will not be debt increasing if the individual can’t pay.
Other states such as Washington and Ohio, have expressed interest in the program. On Oct. 7, there was a conference in Pennsylvania where many states and federal figures discussed the idea. They discussed how the plan could be implemented, whether each state individually or a federal program.
At noon on Nov. 13 in the Pierce College Arts and Allied Health theater, Maggie Humphries from the Economic Institute will give an informational speech on the program and answer any questions students have.
The Pay It Forward program is a potential answer to the question of how to fund higher education that the nation has been dealing with for many years.
“I think the education is a powerful force to change in the world,” Director of Student Life Sean Cooke said. “Any program that can help kids go to college is good. It is exciting that Pay It Forward could change how people look at college.”
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