Two state lawmakers in Ohio are pushing for a plan that would allow students to earn a bachelor's degree at public colleges without paying a tuition bill.
State Reps. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) said Tuesday they will put legislation forward calling on the state's executive agency to develop a pilot program to delay tuition payments at public universities until after graduation, Inside Higher Ed reports. It would then be brought before the state legislature in two years for approval.
Upon graduation, students would pay 3 percent of their income for 24 years, according to WFJM. The percentage of their income would not change, no matter whether a graduate is making $10,000 a year or $100,000.
"If they don't get a job out of college they don't start paying until they get a job," Hagan told WFJM. "The second part is if they don't finish, they only pay a percentage of what they have done. So if they only get to be a sophomore they'll pay for the first two years that's it."
The plan mimics a recently passed proposal in Oregon called "Pay It Forward," which came out of a Portland State University class. That measure was similar to an idea that students at the University of California-Riverside presented in 2012. UC system president Mark Yudof called it a "constructive idea," but the plan did not make it far.
Critics of Oregon's plan, like Zac Bissonnette at Bloomberg View, argue that because high income graduates would pay more in absolute amounts, the plan punishes success.
Proponents like the Economic Opportunity Institute, a Seattle-based think tank, say it would improve college access for low-income and middle class students, "who might otherwise be deterred from attending or completing college by the prospect of high debt levels."
Foley said in a release, "This is a unique opportunity for the state to actively address a real problem that has haunted so many young people for far too long."