Can Oregon Pay College Tuition Forward?07:42
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The idea for "Pay It Forward" was born out of a seminar at Portland State University. (Wikimedia Commons)
The idea for "Pay It Forward" was born out of a seminar at Portland State University. (Wikimedia Commons)

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that federal student loan debt now tops a trillion dollars.

Many people across the country are trying to figure out a solution to that problem. One proposal from Oregon has been attracting a lot of attention.

It's called "Pay It Forward," and it would allow students to learn now and pay later based on a percentage of their future income.

The idea grew out of a seminar class at Portland State University.

"It would work like social security in reverse," one of the seminar students, Tracy Gibbs, told Here & Now. "You would get the benefit of your education now and pay 3 percent of your gross adjusted income once you graduate, for a number of years."

Michael Dembrow is a state representative for Oregon, and also chair of the higher education committee.

He's also an English professor at Portland Community College. He helped to shepherd the legislation though the state legislature.

"We've really seen the issue of student debt come to a tipping point," he said.

He expects Oregon to have a pilot program in place by 2015.

Guests

  • Tracy Gibbs, recent graduate of Portland State University.
  • Michael Dembrow, state representative for Oregon and chair of the higher education committee. He's also an English professor at Portland Community College.

This segment aired on July 17, 2013.

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