The Academe Blog

The blog of Academe Magazine. Opinions published here do not necessarily represent the policies of the AAUP.

On the Issues: “Pay It Forward”

An “On the Issues” Post from the Campaign for the future of Higher Education []


The Oregon legislature recently passed a law requiring the state to study a “Pay It Forward” model for higher education.  Under the plan, students could attend college with no upfront costs but with a payback over 24 years amounting to 3% of their annual earnings.  The state would then use that money to fund costs for students in the future.

With tuition through the roof, it is understandable why students might support a program that promises no upfront costs.

Given the current pressures on state budgets, it is also understandable why the “Pay It Forward” model might be attractive to legislators.  It’s not often they can “do something” significant about higher education without offering more public funding.

But as many analysts have pointed out, it is important to think through the implications of the Oregon plan and others based on the “Pay It Forward” model.

Here are just a few questions to consider:

Is this program really “a deal” for students?  Or will students wind up paying more than they pay now for loans?  (According to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the answer is that they will pay more if “Pay It Forward” becomes a reality (

Will such plans make it even easier for states to reduce—even further—their public funding for higher education?

Will such plans give even more impetus to the current shift of costs from the states to individual students?

Searching for better models for funding higher education should be high on the list for all states; but the devil may surely be in the details with the current “Pay If Forward” model.

For more discussion, see also an analysis by Sara Goldrick-Rab at

About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University, where I have been a faculty member for almost 25 years. I serve as the president of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes two bargaining units, as the vice-president of the Ohio Conference of AAUP, and as a member of the executive committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized.

6 comments on “On the Issues: “Pay It Forward”

  1. Pingback: Affordable College Idea Catches Fire | Sunset Daily

  2. Pingback: On the Issues—Unintended Consequences in the Race to Improve College Completion Rates | Academe Blog

  3. Pingback: On the Issues—Graduate Students and the Future of Higher Education | Academe Blog

  4. martinkich
    June 25, 2014

    Reblogged this on Ohio Higher Ed.

  5. Pingback: Undermining Affordability and Access to Higher Education | The Academe Blog

  6. Pingback: Markets, Technology, and the Purpose of Education | The Academe Blog

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don't impersonate a real person.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on October 25, 2013 by in budget crises, students, tuition and tagged .



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,671 other followers

%d bloggers like this: