Akron Students React to Oregon’s Higher Education Bill

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Special to FOX8.com: Dekontee Morris, University of Akron Bureau intern

AKRON– With colleges and universities all over the U.S. increasing their tuition, and federal student loan interest rates doubling its previous percentage, many students are becoming more and more concerned about the cost of higher education.

However, Oregon’s government officials are deliberating on a bill that may drastically change how students pay for college forever.

The HB 3472 bill, otherwise known as the “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back” bill, was passed unanimously by Oregon’s Democratic Senate on Monday.

This bill will create a program that allows Oregon students to attend any public college or university within the state of Oregon without paying any tuition or fees while attending school.

Instead, students who qualify as an Oregon resident would sign a contract, and agree to an average of 3% of their monthly income paid back to the state every year for up to 24 years after graduation.

This bill may be unanimously favored with government officials in Oregon, but how would current college students react to it?

“Sounds like a good idea,” said Ryan Bradley, a junior at The University of Akron, studying middle-level education.

“If it’s successful, I would like to see it go to schools across the nation. I’m a couple of years away from graduating, so the bill won’t really have an effect on me, but I plan to go to grad school, so it would be nice if I’m eligible during grad school.”

In some ways, this program seems a lot like a redefined loan with very little repercussions.

“Yeah, it’s a lot like a loan, because it is an investment,” agreed Marlon Stevenson, a junior at The University of Akron, studying integrated marketing communications.

However, sophomore Samantha Wright disagreed. “It’s not a loan if there are no interest rates.” Wright is a nontraditional adult student studying ceramics at The University of Akron. “It’s a flat fee based on what school you attend. It’s like borrowing money from your parents.”

With many changes that have occurred to the regulation of federal loans in the past few years, it seems as though Congress is trying to limit how long students stay in school; so wouldn’t this program be a contradiction to that if passed?

“I think so because some students depending on their major cannot graduate quickly,” Wright added. “What about students that are doing double major? Will he graduate on time? I think six years is average for a typical 4-year degree to graduate.”

A new policy has just been passed limiting the time first-time borrowers are able to receive direct subsidized loans.

For a 4-year bachelor degree program, a student is only allowed this loan for up to six years; and up to 3 years for a 2-year degree program.

This bill is waiting to be signed into law by Oregon’s Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber, and if done so, its study must be deemed feasible, and a model program must be submitted to the 2015 general assembly for approval.

This means the program might not be active for at least four years after it has been approved.

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