A promising idea for financing the ever-rising cost of university tuition has emerged from the Oregon Legislature: Don’t charge students anything while they’re enrolled; instead, let graduates pay for their educations later by remitting a percentage of their post-college incomes to their alma maters. Proponents call it a “pay-it-forward” model. The chief obstacle is that universities would need money from somewhere to pay their costs now.
Currently, students pay up front to gain knowledge and skills that will eventually be rewarded in the job market. A near-doubling of tuition and fees over the past decade has resulted in many students having to borrow heavily to make this initial investment. The debt burden for federally backed loans alone averages nearly $25,000 for Oregon students.