Oregon would issue $500 million in bonds to help students struggling to pay for college, under a proposal the state treasurer released Tuesday.
The idea is to sell a 30-year bond at a low interest rate. Treasurer Ted Wheeler says the investment income would then bolster the under-funded Oregon Opportunity Grant.
Wheeler acknowledges that the typical use of bond money is to pay for buildings and roads – not student financial aid, saying,“But we are creating something that I think is as important as infrastructure. We are creating a permanent fund dedicated to higher education access and affordability – and once it is created, it is permanent.”
Wheeler – and some prominent business leaders – argue the fund will pay major dividends to the state, through higher incomes for future college graduates.
Wheeler is taking the proposal to legislators this year. It would need to go to voters –because it creates a new use for state bonds.