Pay it Forward
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: August 29, 2013

PSU student's free-now, pay-later tuition proposal earned worldwide media attention when the Oregon Legislature approved a bill to study its viability this pass session.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Association Press, and news outlets as far away as Australia reported on the Legislative sanction. The idea, nicknamed "Pay it Forward," would allow students to attend college for free and have a small percentage of their future income taken into a fund to pay for the next generation.

Students in a senior-year capstone class taught by Mary King and Barbara Dudley came up with the proposal and lobbied the Oregon Legislature to turn the idea into law. Much of the news hype around the approved legislation reported that it was a done deal. However, legislators voted to have a commission study the idea and if it looks promising, a pilot program is on the agenda for the 2015 session.

In the meantime, Oregon Congressional Sen. Jeff Merkley says he will introduce national legislation intended at providing federal money to help states test the tuition model.

Rising student debt is a national crisis. Portland State Convenes is holding a free town hall discussion and action plan around the crisis from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on October 23 during Portland State of Mind. "From Debt to Degree: Moving to Action on Student Borrowing and Affordability" will also include a workshop for Oregon students and families on how to pay for college. The event is free with a ticket from the PSU Box Office, 503-725-3307 or visit