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Can Oregon's idea fix the student loan crisis?

Financial problems continue to plague many Americans, and student loans are by no means at the bottom of the list. According to Business Week, the amount of student debt owed throughout the U.S. was well over $1 trillion in 2013. Unfortunately, federal student loans can be difficult, if not impossible, for most people to discharge through personal bankruptcy. A bill that passed Oregon’s legislature aims to confront the problem of student loan debt that has crippled countless families.

Getting a higher education does not necessarily mean financial success, unfortunately. In today’s challenging economic climate, about one-fifth of all U.S. graduates with outstanding student loans are unable to repay this debt, says The Guardian. Young people with debt they are unable to relieve through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may have difficulty buying homes or cars, getting married, starting a family and even moving out of their parents’ home.

Oregon lawmakers have recognized this problem and addressed it with House Bill 3472, which would allow students to attend a state university for free but, after graduation, pay three percent of their annual income for 20 to 25 years. This is a “pay it forward” approach that aims to make a college education affordable and attainable for future generations. Many Oregon residents may find this approach preferable to the possibility of a crippling burden of debt that is, in most cases, exempt from bankruptcy.

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