Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that “It is safer to have the whole people respectably enlightened than a few in a high state of science and the many in ignorance” (qtd. R. Samuels 120). One of America’s Founding Fathers argues for a free public university because he knew that in order to have a thriving democracy and a growing economy, a country needs to have highly educated citizens. Today, however, high tuition rates are threatening an affordable college experience and thus, Jefferson’s ideal is in jeopardy. Exorbitant tuition fees are not only usurping access to college, they are also altering the true college experience for many students who seek degrees that net high paying jobs rather than foster a passion for learning (Chow). Because many students are shouldering a lifetime of costly debt and going to school to earn a piece of paper rather than an education, drastic times call for drastic measures.
Recently, the Oregon Legislative Assembly House Bill 3472 introduced a new measure to restructure how students pay for their education at public institution (Oregon Legislative Assembly House Bill 3472). Oregon should use public and private funds to implement Pay it Forward, a post-graduation repayment program based on a percentage of salary, to restructure student debt for two reasons: to retain a pure educational experience and to improve the rate of graduation.