Bill Aims To Eliminate Upfront College Costs

Career College Central summary:

  • Washington students could be among the first to go to college without having to worry about paying tuition up front. A bill in the Legislature proposes they pay after leaving school in the form of a small, fixed percentage of their future income for up to 25 years. Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, who introduced the Pay It Forward program in House Bill 2720, said that with tuition costs and loan debt skyrocketing over the past decade, students from low- and middle-income families find it more difficult to access higher education. The Pay It Forward program would remove that barrier, he said.
  • Similar legislation has been introduced in 17 states with proposals in the works in several others, according to the Economic Opportunity Institute President John Burbank, a Seattle nonpartisan public-policy center. Oregon legislators passed a bill in 2013 that directed a higher-education commission to determine whether a pilot program is warranted and, if so, to submit a proposal to the 2015 Legislature. Additionally, two similar bills have been introduced at the federal level, Burbank said.
  • But some in higher education are skeptical. Chris Mulick, director of state relations for Washington State University, said that while he agrees college affordability is a major issue, he doesn’t want another program added into the mix when those that now exist are lacking resources. Instead of the state investing the estimated startup cost of $1.5 million in Pay It Forward, Mulick said he would rather see the need-based grant program fully funded, noting that 32,000 students were left without grants last year.

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