Students are drowning in debt. The average debt load for an Oregon college graduate is now $25,000, a 75% increase since 2005. This is a truly remarkable cost shift onto the backs of students. Our system of public education that was founded to serve the public good, is quickly slipping out of reach for working class people.
Fortunately, Oregon just took a first step yesterday to change the debt-for-education treadmill that has trapped students, and trapped our economy. By a unanimous vote, the House Higher Education Committee passed HB 3472,* a proposal that Oregon Working Families has taken a leading role in pushing forward for many months now. 
If you want to break the debt-for-education trap, and feel we have come too far to turn back now, sign our petition in support of the Pay it Forward system for debt free higher education in Oregon.
Federal action is needed to fix many aspects of the broken higher education funding system, but the great thing about the our Pay it Forward model is it is something the state of Oregon can do right here to make college accessible to all Oregonians. Here’s how it works:
1. Students who choose to go to an Oregon public university or community college would go tuition free.
2. Then, in the same way that Social Security is a generational compact, graduates pay a small, set amount of their income into a Higher Education Fund dedicated to allowing the next generation of students to go to school tuition free.
3. Finally, graduates don’t start life after college with a massive debt, and we remove Wall Street banks–along with the interest and fees they charge for their loans–from the system altogether.
The bill that passed yesterday is a first step, but it was a big one. It directs the Higher Education Coordinating Committee to develop a Pay It Forward pilot program to be presented to the next Legislative Session for approval. Now our bill moves on to the Ways and Means Committee and then to the floor of both Houses.
With the vote yesterday the Oregon legislature is leading the country on developing a viable, state-based alternative to the debt-driven system that makes Wall Street happy, but leaves students saddled with unsustainable debt.
Don’t let the momentum die in our fight to end student debt as we know it. Sign the petition for debt free higher education in Oregon, and help Oregon lead the nation on addressing this critical issue.