While the 2020 race for the White House shapes up, Democrats are debating ideas like tuition-free college. Oregon has its own policy agenda in mind with House Bill 2889. Certainly, the more educated our population is the more competitive we are — that’s not to mention the importance of knowledge for knowledge’s own sake. But the fight comes down to financing such a bold proposition.

Rep. Evens, (D-Salem), is proposing a way to provide every individual with advanced eduction but also outlines a way to pay for it in a way that combines personal responsibility and community investment. The bill would establish mechanisms to monitor how much money is necessary for students as well as keep a pulse on the markets and workforce needs.

Essentially, the bill would guarantee opportunity programs through an Office of Student Access and Completion, which would be tasked with administering the program. The office would also protect against “bad faith participation of individuals in the program,” according to the summary of the legislation.

Furthermore, HB 2889 would establish an implementation fund. The bill would cover various costs of education, including books, tuition, fees and housing, among other things. Sounds like a good deal. But here’s the kicker: eligible participants must agree to pay the Office of Student Access and Completion “a percentage of the individuals future adjusted gross annual income during a designated period.” The percentage will depend on the degree earned.

In other words, the state will cover eligible participants education costs, but in return it will be able to garnish certain percentages of the participants paycheck once the program is complete, depending n the degree he or she achieves.

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