What would you say if someone said you could go to college, get your degree and then pay the school back over the next 20-25 years by sending them 3% of your income? At no time would you have any loans or debts on your record, so you would emerge form school debt free. Many people would obviously find this a very attractive option. So much so, that Oregon is starting up a pilot program to try this out at their state college(s). The plan calls for the money that comes back to be put into a trust fund that will be used to fund the program for future students.
The program is called Pay it Forward, Pay it Back and Washington state is also looking at a similar program. Interestingly enough, this sort of program is common in places like Great Britain and Australia. There is even a similar program at the federal level here in the U.S. but it has been criticized as too complex and not well advertised. There’s no doubt that we need some fresh alternatives to the current system of loans, grants, and crushing student debt.
According to current numbers, the average college grad emerges with about $26,000 in student loan debt. Combine that with a stagnant (at best) job market and you have a recipe for leaving an entire generation of educated people in the dust, struggling for years just to get their careers started. A Pay it Forward system makes sense on many levels and while it’s not perfect, it certainly beats asking someone with a huge debt to start life when they’re being offered jobs that pay $11 per hour if they’re lucky and that usually includes no benefits. The current system is not working, so it’s obviously time to try some new approaches.
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