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(SACRAMENTO, CA)   – On January 9, 2014 Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduced AB 1456, a measure to study the popular higher education funding plan “Pay it Forward Pay it Back.”  This measure is a financial aid system where a student’s pays no upfront costs for their college education. Upon graduating they pay 2%-4% of their gross income to a state or college trust fund for a specified number of years.  

AB 1456 will require the California Student Aid Commission, the Community College Board of Governors, the California State University Board of Trustees, and would encourage the University Of California Board of Regents, to commission a study to review and make recommendations on Pay it Forward Pay it Back.

“This bill only requires the State of California to conduct a study to see if this policy is feasible for California. Pay it Forward Pay it Back can have multiple benefits for the state including giving students an additional tool to help finance their education, helps deal with historic levels of student loan debt and can increase the number of college graduates in California,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer.

Over the past several decades, the demand in California for college-educated workers has grown. But the supply of college graduates has not kept pace with demand, and it appears that this “workforce skills gap” will not only continue but widen. If current trends persist, California will have one million fewer college graduates than it needs in 2025. This will not only affect California’s future prosperity but increase poverty and income inequality.

“Debt-free access to public higher education ensures that every student can gain postsecondary schooling without jeopardizing the economic security of them or their families, and a highly-skilled workforce leads to a stronger economy and shared prosperity for us all,” stated John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute and the original architect of the policy proposal.

In 2012 the Oregon State Legislature passed a similar measure on a bi-partisan vote requesting that their public universities commission a study to look at the feasibility of implementing Pay it Forward Pay it Back. Since Oregon’s trailblazing policy, several states have introduced legislation to study this policy including Maine, Vermont, Maryland Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  The state of Washington plans to conduct the first pilot program at the University of Washington in 2014.

AB 1456 will be heard in the Assembly Higher Education Committee in late January. 

Assemblyman Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. represents the 59th Assembly district, which covers areas of Los Angeles and the communities of Huntington Park, Walnut Park and Florence-Firestone.

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