Michigan’s “Pay It Forward” Plan Might Help Students Attend College For “Free”

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Michigan legislature recently introduced a plan that could allow students to attend college for “free.” Now, before you jump up and chastise me for advocating free government handouts, hear me out.

The bill would allow eligible students to attend college with the understanding that they are committed to pay a fixed percentage of their future income for a specified duration. It’s not the worst idea.

“The goal is to remove every financial barrier to high education,” Rep. David Knezek (D-Mich.) says, arguing that the financial burden of college is too much for postgrads. “This is a no-interest plan that allows you to pay back as you go and as you can afford it. It takes the monkey off the student’s back.”

The plan is pretty simple, really. For every year a student attends college, he or she agrees to pay a small percentage of his or her postgrad income back to this program. This will amount to 2 percent for community college students and 4 percent for university students.

Here’s the buzzkill: the law puts a huge price on that fifth (or sixth) year of college. Victory laps will end up costing a lot more than a couple extra bar tabs–but this is still a fantastic opportunity to rid future graduates of their college loans and the ever-increasing interest that accompanies them.

The legislation proposes a $2 million kickstart, allotting money for a pilot program of 200 students. The state department will then track the students and verify their postgrad income as they enter the workforce.

So really, it isn’t actually “free.” However, it is interest free. Considering the $2 million initial investment is relatively low in comparison to the projected benefits, it’s worth a shot.

Spreading the earnings across 20 years will protect postgrads from overwhelming student loans. This plan can remove the financial barrier to higher education.

This plan is obviously intended for low income students, and I hope this is handled delicately. I can honestly see this blowing up in Michigan’s face if the government is not selective and demanding with those who are given this opportunity.

A drawback could be a graduate who ends up making significantly more money than he or she initially projected will end up paying his or her tuition many times over. But at that point, the graduate is making a shit ton of money, so who cares?

[via Detroit Free Press]

Image via The Blade

Nathaniel Light is a contributing writer for Total Frat Move. Nate spends his free time drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and covering his food in chili and cheese. This has led to slight weight gain, but he has been told that he resembles a "J. Crew model ten pounds overweight." It was either the nicest insult or the meanest compliment he has ever received. His picture is a metaphor, but it actually happened.

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