Michigan students would attend college for free in exchange for setting aside a fixed percentage of future income to a fund that would allow other students to do the same under a pay-it-forward tuition plan introduced in the Legislature.
More than 20 states are looking at similar programs, most of them in the talking phase, while the bill introduced in February would establish a pilot program seeded with $2 million from the state, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The pilot project would have room for 200 students under the plan proposed last month by Rep. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights), Rep. Theresa Abed (D-Grand Lodge) and Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint). A hearing on their bill has not been scheduled.
Here’s how their plan would work: Community college students would pay 2 percent and university students would pay 4 percent of their post-collegiate incomes to a fund for five years for each year they attended school under the free-tuition program. That would obligate university students who graduated in four years to pay 4 percent of their income back to the pay-it-forward fund for 20 years.
“The only thing free about this is it is interest free,” Knezek told the newspaper. “You go into the program and as soon as you have a job and are above the federal poverty line, you start paying.
“The goal is to remove every financial barrier to high education,” Knezek said. “We’ve increasingly placed the financial burden of college on the backs of students. … It takes the monkey off the student’s back.”
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