Pay It Forward, Pay It Back initiative would give students options

HARRISBURG, August 7, 2013 – State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced plans to introduce a bill that would ease the financial burden on students planning to attend state and state-related universities in Pennsylvania.

The bill, called “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” (PFPB), would create a public fund from which students could draw funds to attend school with no money down. Leach, a longtime supporter of public education and a member of the Senate Education Committee, said the fund would ensure young Pennsylvanians are not overwhelmed by student loan debt after graduation.

“Today’s economy presents a unique set of challenges that college graduates have never had to face before,” Leach said. “I believe it is our duty to give students options and make obtaining a degree more flexible and accessible. Students shouldn’t have to be forever indebted to lenders to earn their education. I believe this landmark legislation would give Pennsylvania’s graduates a chance to enter their careers free from the burden of staggering debt and soaring interest rates.”

Under the bill, qualifying students could use resources from the pool to fund their education. After graduating and joining the workforce, the students would repay the amount borrowed into the fund, interest free, using a small percentage – around 4 percent – of their monthly income.

Leach said the repayment plan would allow the fund to become self-sustaining after an initial period. Seed funding would come from a competitive, temporary severance tax placed on natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania.

According to the Institute for College Access & Success, 70 percent of Pennsylvanians who graduated from college in 2011 left school with student debt, the average amount of which was $30,000. Leach noted that both figures are higher than the national average, with two-thirds of American students graduating about $26,000 in debt.