March 19, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 12

News

Lawmakers demur on proposed tuition deferral program

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

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A program proposing to address rising tuition rates in higher education did not make it far in Olympia this year.

Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI), proposed a program called Pay it Forward, in which students would pay no tuition for college. Instead they would pay a small percentage of their salary after graduation into a state fund for 10 to 25 years.

Those payments would cover the cost of new students entering the program.

Seaquist introduced the bill in January. It was approved by the House Committee on Higher Education, but failed to exit the House Appropriations Committee.

Seaquist’s proposal would have created a pilot program costing about $300,000 per year.

EOI’s Kelli Smith said the organization will bring the proposal this summer to the Washington Student Achievement Council, which is creating a plan to make higher education more accessible.

Smith said the effort likely failed due to timing.

“It’s not really the best year to bring in a whole new policy that’s going to cost the state a big chunk of money,” she said.

The Oregon State Legislature is studying the idea with plans to start a pilot program in 2015.

The program would cover tuition and fees but not living expenses for Oregon residents. For 20 years, graduates would pay 3 percent of their paycheck for attending a four-year college and 1.5 percent for a community college.

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