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Education | Think Out Loud

States Struggle To Make Higher Ed Affordable

TheGirlsNY/Creative Commons

Oregon made national news last year when it passed a bill to study the feasibility of a “Pay It Forward” plan for college. That’s a system where students go to school for free, and pay some of their future earnings back to the state.  The idea has caught on — at least 23 other states have similar proposals in their legislatures, despite the fact that some experts think of it as a gimmick, and Oregon has yet to come up with many of the particulars of how it could work.

Oregon also passed a bill this session to explore the possibility of providing two free years of community college to state residents. Proposals like this and the “Pay It Forward” bill may be a sign that policymakers are looking for new ideas to try to make college more affordable to students, as state investment declines.

Governor Kitzhaber’s education advisor, Ben Cannon, says Oregon is looking into other ways the state can help keep college affordable. One idea is to ensure more students are signing up for federal Pell grants. Another — pioneered by other states — would be to have the state dole out money to institutions not only based student enrollment, but on how many students complete their courses and degrees.

How do you think the state should attempt to solve the crisis of rising college costs?

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