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  • Tuition-free education – is this the only solution?
  • Posted By:
  • Karen W.
  • Posted On:
  • 12-Jun-2014
  • One of the most popular topics doing the round now is the impact free tuition will have on the student debt situation. Students now face a tough situation where fiscal borrowing rates are very high, options are fewer and tuition costs are skyrocketing.

    States are doing their part in finding a solution to this issue. A lot of effort is on to find out how students will be able to pay back their loans after obtaining higher education and establishing their career without it being a burden.

    As a first major step, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill asking the state commission to analyse if it is feasible to offer free tuition for students. As a precursor to a dramatic shift in the way public education is funded in Oregon, a bill was subsequently passed by the state legislature.

    Tuition will be eliminated completely through the plan called “Pay if Forward, Pay it Back”. According to this plan, students will first finish college and after they start working, will pay back the state a portion of their income instead of paying their tuition fees upfront. 

    Of course, for this plan to get into action, it will definitely take a few years. It will be considered by the 2015 state legislature before which a pilot program will be set up for consideration by the Higher Education Coordinating state Committee. 

    According to another additional law that was signed by Bill Haslam, the Governor of Tennessee, every high school graduate in the state would have access to free tuition in the community colleges.
    Tuition for the two year degrees will be covered by the lottery funds amounting to $34 million in this plan called The Tennessee Promise Plan. This plan will go into effect in a year’s time. This innovative program promises a rise in college degree to 55 percent.

    Another creative plan to help students benefit from free tuition was hatched by the Michigan legislators. In exchange for a specific percentage of income from students, the pilot program will offer them free education according to the state’s proposed bill.

    In Illinois, a similar program is looking to allow students to repay their education loan as fixed monthly payments from their disposable income after they get a job. This is an interest-free loan all set to benefit students.

    All said and done, from the student’s point of view, the Pay it Forward Pay It Back is a wonderful opportunity. For the institutions however, offering free education to thousands of students means managing a huge upfront cost. Repayment period is capped at 25 years in Washington as a part of a similar proposal.

    Is there any hope for this type of tuition-free college program to sustain? With student loans spiralling out of control, any such feasible plan seems to be the only hope if we want to enhance graduation rates and produce an educated workforce. This issue must be considered carefully and a solution has to be devised from inside out.

    Innovations have to be considered that will able students to complete four-year diplomas at minimal costs at the community colleges.







 

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