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In a bold progressive move, the Oregon state legislature passed a bill to allow students to attend state universities in Oregon tuition free.

Advocates of the legislation are calling it the “pay it forward” model. Students will be able to initially attend state universities free of cost. Upon graduating students will pay 3 percent of their paycheck for 24 years in order to help fund the program for future students. The model is partially based on the Australian model which has been fairly successful. Students will be able to enter college without the fear of being buried in debt by the time they graduate. Currently students who attend universities in Oregon graduate with an average of 24,616 dollars in debt.
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., gridlocked politicians allowed the interest rate on federal student loans to double from 3.4% to 6.8% -- a policy that progressive Senator Bernie Sanders called "totally absurd."

Despite the outrageous lack of concern by most politicians in Washington for America's debt-burdened students, it's encouraging to see that some states are leading the way to make higher education more accessible and affordable for all. The "Pay It Forward" tuition-free college education bill passed Oregon's legislature unanimously, and is expected to be signed into law by Governor John Kitzhaber.

Although the bill only calls for a pilot program to be developed and studied before full adoption potentially in 2015, it's a step in the right direction. And given the exploding cost of college, politicians will find it difficult to turn back once this gathers steam.

"I feel as if the problem of student debt has reached a tipping point. It's on legislators' minds," said state Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland. "And I think it's on legislators' minds because it's on their constituents' minds. This is something we're hearing a lot about -- at the doorstep, through our polling, through our e-mail." ...

"This is going to happen because students demand change; I believe that firmly," said Steve Hughes, state director of the Oregon Working Families Party. "The conditions are just absolutely ripe for this. We've heard so many stories of student debt that are just beyond belief."

Kudos to Oregon for taking this problem seriously and showing a path forward toward affordable higher education for all!

Originally posted to Eric Stetson on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by PDX Metro, Daily Kos Oregon, and Koscadia.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (136+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, Chaddiwicker, jbou, middleagedhousewife, tb92, kevinpdx, WiseFerret, greycat, chantedor, SneakySnu, koseighty, kyril, HCKAD, tardis10, markdd, quill, Rosaura, Regina in a Sears Kit House, Hatrax, blueoregon, pvasileff, Zinman, OregonOak, Vico, ichibon, LaughingPlanet, skybluewater, sceptical observer, Ray Pensador, susakinovember, blueoasis, toby esterhase, elwior, cordgrass, doinaheckuvanutjob, asym, smiley7, coppercelt, dkmich, MartyM, P Carey, KenBee, bkamr, koosah, gooderservice, pfiore8, Chi, celdd, Powered Grace, Brainwrap, Yo Bubba, Blue Bell Bookworm, samddobermann, rapala, Pilotshark, VTCC73, redstella, annan, bluesheep, Horace Boothroyd III, exlrrp, Siri, DrCoyle65, monkeybrainpolitics, Nulwee, Shakludanto, rl en france, kathny, CarolinW, hlsmlane, GeorgeXVIII, davehouck, dejavu, surfbird007, Texknight, orangecurtainlib, Liberal Thinking, Gustogirl, anastasia p, unfangus, stagemom, joanneleon, kerflooey, Pandora, Polly Syllabic, Catesby, slowbutsure, Youffraita, muddy boots, jediwashuu, JBL55, CJB, ZappoDave, Glass Navel, roses, TheMeansAreTheEnd, cooper888, bnasley, Alma, WisVoter, ZhenRen, radical simplicity, Matt Z, politik, implicate order, AoT, pat bunny, Alumbrados, NapaJulie, exNYinTX, dsb, pixxer, mamabigdog, drdana, peachcreek, deeproots, Tool, JerryNA, maybeeso in michigan, LanceBoyle, trumpeter, petulans, fixxit, barkingcat, qofdisks, tegrat, Khun David, emmanuel, FloridaSNMOM, Witgren, doingbusinessas, boran2, Geenius at Wrok, chimene, George3, Steve Masover

    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

    by Eric Stetson on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:41:35 PM PDT

  •  Question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pilotshark, FloridaSNMOM

    Was this a vote to approve the plan or to put it up to a vote in 2014?

    Great plan, regardless.

  •  Good job people of Oregon... (12+ / 0-)

    now can we stop pronouncing the name of your state organ. Thanks, jbou.

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:51:13 PM PDT

  •  still inferior to free tuition same as k-12 (11+ / 0-)

    but better than the popular method of just jacking up tuition to the point where the state university is essentially private.

  •  The Best Thing My Parents Ever Did (10+ / 0-)

    was pay for my college. It was just a given they would pay for it. It was such a great thing I don't know how to explain it. You know the funny thing, in like 1980s it cost my parents $2,700 for me to go to state school. Western Illinois as an undergrad and Louisiana State for grad school. I've not looked at the cost lately, but I bet a ton more.

    •  My Niece Is, Well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rl en france

      told her she will ever be made. Always a factor. She will always have an education.

    •  You're very fortunate. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pat bunny, sacrelicious

      And I wish more parents either could do that or would do that.

      Mine didn't, although they could have.  My mother would have liked to, but my father made it impossible.  Fortunately my older sister had been down that road already and had figured out the ropes, so she mentored me in applying for a state-guaranteed student loan.

      Of course, this was in the early seventies when in-state tuition was $253.50 per semester.  Part-time jobs took care of books, rent, food, etc.

    •  I'm pretty broke, but both my kids have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pat bunny

      college degrees and no student loans.  I was fortunate to be able to do it, and feel they have enough challenges ahead without adding that element.  It will impact my ability to retire, but that is a small price to pay.  My generation has had it easy compared to what people in their twenties face (I'm 53).

      "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person." David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World

      by Delta Overdue on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 10:12:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Re (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dkmich, coffeetalk
    Advocates of the legislation are calling it the “pay it forward” model. Students will be able to initially attend state universities free of cost. Upon graduating students will pay 3 percent of their paycheck for 24 years in order to help fund the program for future students. The model is partially based on the Australian model which has been fairly successful. Students will be able to enter college without the fear of being buried in debt by the time they graduate. Currently students who attend universities in Oregon graduate with an average of 24,616 dollars in debt.
    A loan by any other name is still a loan?

    A student making an average of $60k over the next 24 years will pay back $43k under this plan ($60k times 3% times 24).

    A student who just takes the average student loan ($24k) at 6% will pay $45k for the loan. For people averaging $80k or more the program is a total loser.

    This program doesn't do anything for students taking higher paying majors like engineering, nursing, medicine, etc.

    It probably does substantially help liberal arts majors who only ever expect to make $30-50k, if that's the kind of activity you want to subsidize.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:12:30 PM PDT

    •  Loan-based systems naturally drive up tuition. (7+ / 0-)

      This Oregon plan wouldn't exert any upward economic pressure on tuition, as far as I can tell.

      If you think I'm wrong in drawing such a distinction, I'd be interested to hear your argument.

      Anyway, your point is correct that this program wouldn't make economic sense for people who expect to earn very high salaries. However, most people who go to college in 21st century America won't be earning $80k+. Jobs and salaries in general are on the decline, because of automation and globalization. I don't think there's any reason to expect the trend of the decline of the middle class to reverse anytime soon. People have to go to college nowadays just to have a chance to earn the mediocre salaries, let alone the good ones.

      The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

      by Eric Stetson on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:22:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA, canuckster, coffeetalk
        This Oregon plan wouldn't exert any upward economic pressure on tuition, as far as I can tell.

        If you think I'm wrong in drawing such a distinction, I'd be interested to hear your argument.

        It allows people to take whatever major they feel like without regard to whether they can make any money from it.

        Therefore there are going to be more students in schools (especially in liberal arts) where they otherwise might have been deterred from taking the classes by the fact that they will need loans.

        More students = higher tuition.

        Additionally, the students most "helped" by the income-based repayment scheme are going to be marginal students taking low-paying majors. If not carefully structured, the program could turn into state taxpayer money being poured by the truckload into sociology, women's studies, history, and other easy majors and in exchange for tax money, taxpayers get more unemployed or marginally employed degree holders. Is this a good use of state taxpayer money t could otherwise go to K12 education or roads or some other purpose?

        However, most people who go to college in 21st century America won't be earning $80k+. Jobs and salaries in general are on the decline, because of automation and globalization. I don't think there's any reason to expect the trend of the decline of the middle class to reverse anytime soon. People have to go to college nowadays just to have a chance to earn the mediocre salaries, let alone the good ones.
        So I ask again. I'm sure that college students would really love to be handed free money to go to college, especially for easy majors.

        In light of the above realities, what are state taxpayers getting out of this program that's better than the opportunity cost of the funds?

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:53:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  so there's no value in the humanities? (18+ / 0-)

          I take some umbrage at your suggestion that liberal arts and humanities are "easy" majors. In my view, and there's some evidence to support this, we've gone so far in focusing on economically-satisfying education (STEM), that we're raising a generation of people who don't know how to think. Instead, if we shifted a bit to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), we might be able to retain some culture beyond economically-driven social pap.

          Is the only good education the one that ensures that the student makes a high income? Or can we not find some value in educational coursework that at least allows some students to have a fulfilling life?

          I, myself have a masters degree in museum studies - one of the most humanities-driven fields there is. The median pay grade for someone in my field is around $40K. But we have more and more graduates every year, in a field that isn't exactly a "growth industry." Why? Because this is a field that people love passionately, and they want to work for museums. They won't be able to pay a lot back, but at least they'll be fulfilled and adding to our country's rich cultural landscape.

          It's not all about the bottom line.

          •  Take your beef up with the labor market. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, coffeetalk

            They don't even want "business" degrees anymore - too general.  Degrees need to be occupation specific, e.g., IT, engineer, nurse, doctor.....

            Corporations don't want to pay train or give experience.   Students are expected to graduate with a degree and 5 years experience specific to the job, or they'll just hire a H1B visa because "Americans and American schools suck".   Just ask them.

            What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Elizabeth Warren 2016

            by dkmich on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:48:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And the problem with that (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stagemom, Code Monkey, koosah

              is that things change so rapidly with jobs so narrowly defined that even if you take seemingly valuable major, it could be worthless by the time you get out of college.

              Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

              by anastasia p on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:29:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Interesting HuffPo piece a couple of weeks ago ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koosah

              ... about the benefits of hiring English majors.

            •  The labor market doesn't determine value (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koosah

              We do.

              That's why we need to fund higher education. Otherwise we'll end up with a country who's education is determined by corporations and the rich.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 10:47:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Fuck them. (0+ / 0-)

              Corporations undervaluing people while at the same time working hard to optimize the over exploitation of them is a growing and significant problem.

              We don't fix it by enabling that behavior.

              "the labor market" is to a high degree what we say it is.  

              If we want to be completely passive about it, corporations want lots of stuff, and they will always cite need for more profit to get it.

              Nobody gets everything they want, and part of the cost of doing business is enabling the laborers, as well as paying them, etc...

              Producing well rounded citizens who know something besides the little niche some corporation wants to have nailed before making a hire means people who are not locked in, can be entrepreneurial, and most importantly, civic minded critical thinkers.

              I am a successful tech oriented professional.  VP level.  The ONLY college I took was the humanities.  Niche technical education is nice, but things change quickly, training opportunities numerous, not to mention the individual themselves contributing to their professional growth being a great option.

              What was that "easy" education worth?

              Tons.  That "easy" education still pays dividends where technology has aged out for me twice over already.

              ***Be Excellent To One Another***
              IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

              by potatohead on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:05:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep
            I, myself have a masters degree in museum studies - one of the most humanities-driven fields there is. The median pay grade for someone in my field is around $40K. But we have more and more graduates every year, in a field that isn't exactly a "growth industry." Why? Because this is a field that people love passionately, and they want to work for museums. They won't be able to pay a lot back, but at least they'll be fulfilled and adding to our country's rich cultural landscape.
            The number of museum science graduates is increasing, per your statement.

            The number of museum jobs is declining or stagnant also per your statement.

            Therefore a lot of museum science graduates (by the math alone) are going to end up working at McDonalds. Given this mathematical reality I do not see the point of a state government subsidizing this outcome.

            Is the only good education the one that ensures that the student makes a high income? Or can we not find some value in educational coursework that at least allows some students to have a fulfilling life?
            Students don't need expensive education to learn non-job-skill stuff. I like history too. I read a lot of history books in my spare time... in my city apartment paid for by my engineering salary. Students can make whatever decision they want, but the labor market will be the ultimate arbiter. If it doesn't think their "fulfilling life" skills are useful, they will work at McDonalds after graduation. They can get a lot of the same "fulfilling" skills just by reading books for cheap, why spend the money on classes?

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:16:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There are real careers for liberal arts majors. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koosah
              Students can make whatever decision they want, but the labor market will be the ultimate arbiter. If it doesn't think their "fulfilling life" skills are useful, they will work at McDonalds after graduation.
              Plenty of options for liberal arts grads other than flipping burgers. For example:

              -- teachers
              -- professors
              -- technical writers
              -- journalism
              -- public relations
              -- political organizations and campaigns
              -- charitable and religious organizations

              In fact, I would venture to guess that professions that require irreplaceable human cognitive abilities -- i.e. skills and activities that are the hardest to replace by robots and artificial intelligence -- are the ones that will have the most jobs in 20 or 30 years from now. It's easier to program a supercomputer to do math and science stuff than to write a clear and convincing essay or report, or to teach a class of students, or to develop a business plan and marketing strategy for an organization.

              Liberal arts will see its resurgence, because it will be the only area of human activity left that can't ultimately be replaced by computers.

              The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

              by Eric Stetson on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:20:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Liberal arts isn't worthless. (11+ / 0-)
          what are state taxpayers getting out of this program that's better than the opportunity cost of the funds?
          Well, I think there's something to be said for more people getting the degree of their choice, even if that's a liberal arts major. Society benefits if there are more people who know something about history, culture, writing and critical thinking, rather than everyone's education being only about vocational training.

          Some liberal arts majors are needed for a healthy society, and these majors aren't all easy or wasteful career-wise. And people who have a very strong interest in these subjects are probably willing to earn less money in their career, if it means they can do what they feel is their calling.

          I doubt that a lot of people would just randomly decide to take a liberal arts degree if they don't want a career in that field, given the fact that most people only get one chance to go to college. Perhaps that could actually be the restriction on this program to prevent abuse; that you only can get one tuition-free degree.

          The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

          by Eric Stetson on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:22:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And who will house and feed them? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, coffeetalk, Alumbrados

            I don't disagree with you philosophically.  Practically, they can't get work that doesn't include:  "do you want fries with that"

            What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Elizabeth Warren 2016

            by dkmich on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:49:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's our fault then (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stagemom, Alumbrados, pat bunny

              If, for instance, teaching (which used to be the field of choice for many liberal arts major) cannot provide housing and food — and some people are certainly pushing it in that direction — then our society has a HUGE problem that is undermining every aspect of it.

              A LOT of people can't find work — including STEM majors. Most can find work that doesn't involve "fries with that."

              Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

              by anastasia p on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:31:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Incorrect. See my comment above (0+ / 0-)

              in which I outline some of the careers for liberal arts majors besides flipping burgers.

              The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

              by Eric Stetson on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:22:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The comment entitled (0+ / 0-)

                "There are real careers for liberal arts majors."

                The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

                by Eric Stetson on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:29:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm seeing a world in which (0+ / 0-)

                  there aren't real careers for very many people.

                  But I'm functioning as a Debbie Downer in this diary, which actually has good news and shows that OR is still a real state with a real government striving for good things.

                  So hooray for you guys, and I'm outta here.

                  Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

                  by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:40:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You're right, there will be fewer and fewer jobs (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    SouthernLiberalinMD

                    in all fields. Because robotics and artificial intelligence will eliminate most jobs. The idea that most human beings should only survive if they "have a job," i.e. earning their sustenance through selling their labor, may be coming to an end sooner than we think -- because hardly any human labor will be required anymore.

                    I happen to believe that it will be harder to eliminate jobs that require critical thinking, writing and speaking skills, however, because these cannot be replicated as easily by a computer. Therefore, the liberal arts professions may see a resurgence in coming decades, at least compared to some of the technical professions.

                    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

                    by Eric Stetson on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:53:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That's only if the dinosaur (0+ / 0-)

                      doesn't drag us down with it.

                      For most people, the notion of having to earn one's livelihood is so central to their thinking that they can't get away from it.

                      I agree with you, BTW; I'm just not sure that people can make that change inside their own minds.

                      You're talking some heavy-duty mental furniture there. Changing that idea isn't like moving a chair; it's like moving my piano.

                      Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

                      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 02:21:50 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  practically, a whole lot of people I know (0+ / 0-)

              can't get work that doesn't include that.

              Blaming it on the liberal arts, is so, I don't know, 80s of you. Like if only we could populate the U.S. with MBAs and computer science guys exclusively, we'd have no unemployment problem.

              Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

              by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:39:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Just ran across (0+ / 0-)

            this in today's Oregonian.  Titled "Oh, the Humanities."  Seems germane to the thread.

            Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

            by CJB on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 09:06:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  History is not an "easy major." (6+ / 0-)

          "It doesn't matter what I do....People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live."--Newty

          by Vico on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:26:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Take... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rich in PA, dkmich, mndan, soros

            ...chemical engineering or materials science and we'll talk.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:32:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It was my major. It's an easy major... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk

            ...in the sense that any generically smart person, someone who can read and write and think with some facility, can do it.  The more technical majors require some specific talents beyond what we consider generic intelligence.

            You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

            by Rich in PA on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:48:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Only because our culture refuses (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rich in PA, pat bunny

              To teach math and science properly.

            •  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why (3+ / 0-)

              we've been de-emphasizing and de-funding the humanities and social sciences for 35 years.

              And, after nearly 40 years of this disdain, we've discovered that our societies, the characters of our leaders, the political systems in which they dwell, and the ability of our populace to engage with their civic society have totally gone into the crapper.

              But we've got lots and lots and lots of cool technology and machines.

              Maybe that will help us survive as a species for the next 100 years. Or maybe our horrible failures at the basics of civilization, analytical thinking, political governance, and moral action, will get us all killed. Because apparently having the technical capacity to do something can't produce the will to get it done.
              Hmm. Funny that.

              You want fries with that?

              Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

              by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:46:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I am a history major (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Horace Boothroyd III

              About to graduate this fall, finally. In my experience, history is one of those majors that gives you back as much as you put into it. You can put very little effort into it, learn absolutely nothing, and when you get your degree you will be screwed because the things you could have learned would have actually helped you out in the real world. Or, you can take it seriously, be intellectually curious, pick up awesome writing skills, learn to think analytically, and graduate with a set of skills that you just can't get outside the humanities. The latter choice requires a massive commitment, which makes it a very challenging major. Because if you choose the latter, you actually have to learn how to think for yourself, rather than just memorizing a bunch of stuff.

              I've also noticed that, out of all the major departments, the students in the humanities tend to be the most politically active, and not just to pad their resume to get into a good grad, law or med school. Being in the humanities introduces you to points of view far outside your own, something that no other college does. This is why it is so important.

              As for jobs, I know several history majors who graduated in May. Many of them are either going on to law school (one student wants to be a civil rights lawyer) or already have a job. And many are clueless about what to do next because they sailed through college without any goal in mind.

              Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

              by moviemeister76 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 02:22:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  My understanding of the Australian system is (8+ / 0-)

          first, that costs are controlled because all universities in Australia are public.  

          Second, students are "loaned" an amount equivalent to the tuition and fees that they do not pay outright, and anyone is entitled to borrow the full amount.  

          Third, the loan is interest-free.  

          Fourth, repayment is administered by the Australian equivalent of the IRS.  No repayment is required if the student earns less than a certain (reasonable) income during the year.  A percentage (maybe 3%?) of the amount in excess of the specified income is added to the student's income tax bill every year until the loan is paid off.  A student who never gets a reasonably well-paid job never pays back the loan.  

          Maybe I'm wrong about some of the details of how it works, though.  Does anyone here know?

          I think the Australian system would be a huge improvement over what we have.  If only the U.S. could learn from other countries!  I applaud Oregon.

        •  I think you don't understand (3+ / 0-)

          the value that most Oregonians place on education.

          My hometown started life, not long after Portland was founded, as a college town.  

          That it is now a sawmill town has more to do with Oregon State being five miles away than with the locals not valuing education - though I do recommend not getting my mother started on the Lowther boys.

          Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

          by loggersbrat on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:18:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, it does allow people to chose their major (0+ / 0-)

          despite what money they may be able to make from it. If you want to live in a world where money is the sole determinate of good then you are perfectly welcome to argue for that openly.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 10:51:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The system treats all majors equally! (26+ / 0-)

      This is a WONDERFUL thing.  I don't see why you think this is a downside.  

      If I'm a neocon baby aiming at a six-figure screw-the-poor banking job, then I'm not going to go to a state college in the first place.

      If I'm a regular student who happens to land in an 80K / year job, then I would hope that the peace of mind that I got from not having to worry about loan debt, freeing me to study and later work, would make me happy to pay a little more to support others on the same path.

      If I'm going into a liberal arts program, or another traditionally bad-paying but important field, I'm happy that I can study what I am passionate about, and thus eventually do it for a living, without having to worry about selling my soul and doing something strictly for the bucks.

      One of the effects of our current system is that it encourages people to seek money, and only money, out of future employment.  We need bankers and engineers and doctors and lawyers and nurses... but we also need social workers and teachers and philosophers and librarians and historians.  

      If tomorrow's excellent teachers are scared out of becoming that teacher from fear of debt, then society loses.  If we have a a million mortgage brokers and no counsellors, that's not healthy for the system.  

      This is the best news I've heard in a long time.  I hope it works.

      Odds and ends about life in Japan: 1971wolfie.wordpress.com

      by Hatrax on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:33:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well said. n/t (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koosah, rl en france, davehouck, CJB

        The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

        by Eric Stetson on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:35:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Only it isn't correct. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          A teaching degree is occupation specific.  If its k-12, you need a teaching certificate.  If it is a  university teaching job, you need a PhD.    All degrees today need to be occupation specific:   teacher, engineer, doctor, lawyer, finance, nurse, etc....... if you want a job that pays more than 40K a year.    Today a liberal arts or business degree will get you a job at MacDonald.

          What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Elizabeth Warren 2016

          by dkmich on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:08:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Here's where I think the dispute is. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, sacrelicious, Sparhawk
        If I'm going into a liberal arts program, or another traditionally bad-paying but important field, I'm happy that I can study what I am passionate about, and thus eventually do it for a living, without having to worry about selling my soul and doing something strictly for the bucks.
        If you major in art history, or dance, or photography, or anthropology, while you are in college you may be studying what you are passionate about.  But chances are much, much smaller that you will "eventually do it for a living."
        •  But you can certainly get a job (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eric Stetson

          in those fields.

          I got a philosophy degree and there literally isn't a field outside of academia and yet I have a job. I mean, it isn't great but if I didn't have loans to pay back it would be fine to support myself with no problem.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 10:57:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not everyone can. That's the point. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk

            There are lots of philosophy majors who can't find a job in their field.

            Getting a philosophy undergraduate degree is no assurance that you will "eventually do it for a living."  Your chances of "eventually doing it [your degree] for a living are far higher in other, more high-demand degrees.  

            Should students take into account the job market for a degree when deciding on a degree?  

            •  I think you misunderstood (0+ / 0-)

              No one gets a job "in their field" with a philosophy degree except professors. We get other jobs outside our field.

              Should students take into account the job market for a degree when deciding on a degree?
              Sure, if they're going to get a technical degree or something like Law or Engineering. The majority of people in the humanities don't get jobs "in their field". The flexibility is one of the better aspects of the degree.

              At the same time, giving people the option for affordable college means that people will chose what they want to do instead of what the market says they should do. I for one don't trust the market to tell us what our society should be educated in.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:19:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  To be fair (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, Sparhawk

                What you actually wrote was "But you can certainly get a job in those fields," not "But you can certainly get a job even though you studied in one of those fields."

                I don't think anyone would disagree that you can get a job that has nothing to do with your degree (and speaking as someone with history and anthropology undergrad majors, I know all too well how unlikely you are to get a job in either field without a graduate degree).

    •  The earnings of liberal arts majors start low. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koosah, annan, rl en france, DrFood

      Five, ten or twenty years into careers, liberal arts majors do better, thanks to promotions, MBAs and suchlike.  The STEM fields everybody wants to direct students into are approaching saturation.  Science funding is drying up; IT and engineering are highly cyclical fields with jobs that are among the easiest to export and to fill with recruits from abroad.  Math is a great subject, but careers tend to lead to Wall Street derivatives markets, academia (adjunct work for many or most) or teaching high school.  

      Perhaps the optimum is to require a common core of small-l liberal studies (which includes a full year of calculus and a full year of some "hard" lab science), then encourage students to match their talents and inclinations with their major.  There is surprisingly little work out there for engineers, technicians and scientists who merely endure their work to get a paycheck.  They may get a first job, but then they lose the first job in acrimonious circumstances and do not get a second.  The life of a barista who supplements her income by adjuncting or art or catsitting begins to look enviable from the unemployment line.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:54:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a bet, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rl en france, mkor7

      even if you are expecting to enter a higher-pay field, and hoping to earn enough that 3% for 24 years will be a higher cost than a $45k loan, it would be wise to choose the 3% solution.  First, many students change majors at least once, some to higher-earning disciplines, many the other way. Second, not all entering students go on to graduate at all. Third, few graduates these days are finding career-track jobs right out of school, and the oversupply that has built up will keep that competition intense in many fields. If you borrow the $45k you will owe it even if you wind up a dropout or a barista with a French Literature major, but 3% of lousy wages is manageable.  If you do wind up a $120,000 engineer, you made a bad bet but 3% is still manageable, and a reasonable cost for the education and opportunity you have accessed. And the extra goes to educate the generation that will be bankrolling your retirement someday.

    •  Yeah, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davehouck, koosah, CJB, AoT, Witgren
      It probably does substantially help liberal arts majors who only ever expect to make $30-50k, if that's the kind of activity you want to subsidize.
      god forbid we should have a society with well-rounded educated people.

      "When I see I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I see I am everything, that is love. My life is a movement between these two." - Nisargadatta Maharaj.

      by mkor7 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:20:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A doctor is unlikely (9+ / 0-)

      to have only $24,616 in debt. This allows a medical student to choose to go into primary care or pediatrics as opposed to making the choice of a specialty based on its higher salary. It frees students from such decisions.

      And you sneering at liberal arts "if that's the KIND OF ACTIVITY you want to subsidize" as if these majors were crimes pulls the base out from under your entire weak argument. This country absolutely, definitely needs liberal arts majors as much as it needs narrow-focused technical majors.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:28:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One of my favorite quotes: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ellen Columbo, Eric Stetson, ET3117
        "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."  
        Albert Einstein
        The Governor's education plan is intended to make better citizens and to equip young adults for an economy that requires them to change careers multiple times throughout their lives.  Simply getting that technical degree in one of the sciences might not be the best preparation for the entire span of one's working life.  Any basic Liberal Arts degree gives a young adult a pretty good foundation upon which to add future training and further education, as needed.

        The new shift in Oregon's education system recognizes that learning begins Pre-K and continues for life.    

        Metaphors be with you.

        by koosah on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 08:31:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Native Oregonian here (12+ / 0-)

    and also in the midst of my undergraduate program! VERY proud to be from here.

    Oh and happy 4th! :)

    "Who's the more foolish, the fool, or the fool that follows him?"--Obi-Wan Kenobi

    by punkRockLiberal on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:29:32 PM PDT

  •  Great news and great diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rl en france, Eric Stetson

    You are a terrific writer, Eric. I've been telling you that for a long time.

    •  Thank you! n/t (0+ / 0-)

      The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

      by Eric Stetson on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:25:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A huge subsidy to the better-off. (0+ / 0-)

    The idea of a non-means-tested free college education is crazy, and it's fiscally unsustainable because in our new economy too many people will make too little for the de-facto repayments to cover the cost.  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:52:04 AM PDT

  •  now this is activism... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koosah, rl en france, CJB

    it certainly is not promoting one political party over another or pumping out loud blah blah blah like let's reduce interest rates on student loans... only to have the opposite happen.

    activism is actually DOING IT. like why not push the Senators and Congresspeople to get their states to do just this. or to stop ALEC. or to get state legislators to outlaw NSA spying on citizens.

    now... that's activism.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

    by pfiore8 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:53:26 AM PDT

  •  One of the side effects of this program will be to (7+ / 0-)

    encourage kids to continue school after K-12.  This has been part of Governor Kitzhaber's larger "40-40-20" plan from the beginning, but I've been interested to see how they would make this happen, given the exorbitant student loan costs.  40% of High School graduates should go on to a 4+ year degree, 40% to a technical degree and 20% to some sort of post-High School training program.

    Kitz has a vision for Oregon education that starts with Pre-K and (hopefully) follows student progress/achievement until the student is gainfully employed.  The three stages of education have been folded into one system and for the first time Pre-K is included in the state system.  

    Watching from the vantage point of my place on a local school board, I have been skeptical that Kitz could change the system enough to make a real difference.  Everyone says that "Education is Our Top Priority" but slogans rarely transition into actions and never come with any $$ to implement any changes.

    This time has been different.  The State Legislature has a Democratic majority and that has helped push through funding for Kitz's plans.  For the first time in 8 years? 10 years? maybe more, K-12 was funded first instead of getting a portion of what was left after funding the rest of the state budget.

    I am cautiously optimistic.  This news helps.  I have to admit that until now I was wondering why we were mandating that graduating HS students should pursue higher education goals that would saddle them with lifelong debt.  This will be a big step in insuring that Oregon's citizens will be among the best-educated in the country.  That will surely reap benefits for years to come, as those students become voters.        

     

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:27:54 AM PDT

    •  Question ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koosah

      Good insights from your vantage point on the school board.

      How will the pay-it-forward plan work for students who do not complete a degree?

      I suspect that smart, motivated students from all over the country will flock to Oregon. I can easily imagine my nephew making the move for all the right reasons. Is there a residency requirement?

      Thanks for adding local insight to the conversation this morning.

      "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

      by annan on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:13:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Much of the Governor's over-arching plan for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annan

        education has raised an enormous number of questions that no one has all the answers for...yet.  LOL.  That was also part of my initial skepticism, but he continues to reach out to groups of local educators at all levels, which gives me more optimism.  

        The residency requirement for Oregon Higher Ed is currently 12 months prior to application for admission.  

        Part of the new system, though, is an effort to make the transition from K-12 to Higher Ed as seamless as possible, to the point of blurring the line between the two.  There will be requirements for College admission for students to complete while still in High School.  Off the top of my head, I know that graduating HS students will have to complete a certain number of college level credits/hours before they can even get a regular Oregon HS diploma.  How THAT requirement would effect students from other state systems will surely be a new set of questions.

        The critical piece in all of this will be to re-elect Kitzhaber and maintain the Dem majority in the Legislature.  Otherwise we will be in the middle of changing everything and the Republicans will just de-fund it all.        

        Metaphors be with you.

        by koosah on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 08:16:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's an interesting model. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7, koosah, annan, jpmassar, Eric Stetson

    Taking advantage of the 'each according to his or her ability' model is a nice touch, paying an equal percentage of earnings.

    Oregon's legislature, by using the percentage model instead of flat fee structures, has shown it understands what equal really means when it comes to economic ability.

    Very cool idea. Good for Oregon. It's refreshing to see good stuff happening at the state level. I'm in NC and we're getting brutalized on the home front.

    "Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel." -Sepp Herberger

    by surfbird007 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:01:55 AM PDT

  •  This is exciting (0+ / 0-)

    Congratulations to Oregon for recognizing a problem that's a real drag on our economy and our country's future and doing something to address it.

    THis plan leaves students free to follow their passions and talents without worrying about what job they can get that pays enough to pay off their student loans. Lawyers can opt to be public defenders. Kids can choose to be social workers and teachers.

    I wish other states, like Ohio, would follow suit instead of wasting the time figuring out ways to increase poverty and infant mortality by stripping women of the ability to access/afford abortion AND pre-natal and maternity care (and health care, day care, food assistance and quality education for their kids since we are now subsidizing failing junk charters at a higher rate than public schools or non-profit charters).

    Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

    by anastasia p on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:24:28 AM PDT

  •  Posting this comment from Gawker in full (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koosah, Eric Stetson

    Without further comment, because it's pretty spot-on. H/t to araucaniad.

    originally we set up University of Virginia, Rutgers, West Point and Annapolis, Texas A&M, University of California, etc., as public institutions, supported out of the general funds. the idea was that this was a piece of public infrastructure, just like the highways and armed forces. these institutions needed to exist, and the state needed to supply them, because of the massive benefits they would provide to society. UC Berkeley (along with Stanford) helped create the ecosystem of technology and talent in the Bay Area that led to Silicon Valley, for just one crude and direct example of where the existence of university education led to a boon for the economy in general. in fact I think the virtuous results of public education are much more profound than that, although less tangible or easily measurable. I think it has to do with making a third-world country (America in 1865) into a first-world country (America in 1940).

    so now that the political system has been hijacked by an anti-government, anti-tax movement, the system is no longer able to recover enough taxation to properly fund these university systems. what this proposal represents is the right-wing dream: the university is effectively private as long as the costs are born by the "beneficiaries" of the university. this is tantamount to saying that when you get a degree, you are the only beneficiary, so you should pay for it - whether in four years financed by student loans, or over 24 years, as a percent of your income. when in reality, the # of degree holders in a given area is a census statistic that definitely influences the decisions of certain companies to locate an office in that area... for just another crude "instrumentalizing" example.

    we should reject the right-wing assertion that "if you want a degree, you should pay for it yourself". the more degreeholders we graduate, the better off we are as a country. we should pay for these institutions as a society at large, so that grads can start off their lives without a debt burden that inhibits their entrepreneurship and creativity.

    it's like hospitals. the healthier the people around you are, the less likely it is that you'll get sick. so we should be providing free healthcare, rather than making individuals shoulder the financial risks of illness...     Wednesday 5:17pm

    You couldn't load a pistol with dormitive virtue and shoot it into a breakfast-roll - CS Peirce

    by Mr Raymond Luxury Yacht on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:34:49 AM PDT

  •  wow, isn't that how state universities always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan

    used to be? or at least very low tuition? this is radical?

  •  So many questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar

    Wow. As a parent of an 11 year old in Oregon, this sounds intriguing. We've been socking away as much as we can to try to save for his college, but we're really not able to save as much as it'll cost. Now I'm wondering what the options for families like ours might be. Could we pay for part of his education with the money we've saved and reduce his long term burden? I get a staff discount at our state universities as a part of my benefits. How does that play out? Hmmm... I'm in favor of a system like this, but it might not be beneficial in our case.

  •  Interesting way to pay for education. (0+ / 0-)

    It's a good idea for students to be able to get their degree and then pay for it later. I just wonder if they have thought of all the quirks of this. What happens when they move out of state? Does the money come out of their paycheck no matter where they live? Or do they have to send a check every year? What happens if they become disabled and do not have an income?

  •  In 2002 I ran an admittedly longshot (0+ / 0-)

    campaign for a seat in the Oregon senate.  What's significant is that this approach to reform of student debt was a key part of my platform - very nice to see something that I campaigned on and for getting a chance. Fundamentally, education (of everyone) is an investment by the nation in our future. Sometimes the benefits are measured in intangibles with the improvements of an educated populace being measured in reduced crime rates, better outcomes in people's healthcare, better choices resulting in generally improved livability, etc.  Sometimes the benefits are more tangible or direct as demonstrated by the general improvements in income correlated with more education. Appropriately then, if the investment is made in the individual by society, the better the individual does in life, then the better the return on the investment to society. Here's hoping the experiment gets a good run!

    Good Sense is Seldom Common

  •  Problem is: will these college (0+ / 0-)

    graduates be able to get jobs?

    That's the only problem I see with it.

    Kudos for taking the debt out of the issue, though--I mean, bank-issued debt.

    Hate those fuckers, and I wouldn't trust them anywhere near any institution I cared about.

    World-wrecking fuckers.

    Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:36:38 PM PDT

  •  Very cool! (0+ / 0-)

    I hope that this all works out.  

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 03:03:15 PM PDT

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