Sen. Merkley's student debt plan: 'This isn't a loan, This is a contract'

EUGENE, Ore. -- It could be a huge relief for college graduates getting saddled with student loans.

A new proposal from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley called "Pay It Forward" would allow students to go to college without paying any tuition upfront.

While the model is still being fleshed out, it has a lot of students puzzled on how it will play out for them.

"It's a matter of how long is it going to take to pay off, that's the question," said current University of Oregon student Jeff Braatz. "Is it something you pay off for the rest of your life? Do you pay more than what your actual debt is worth?"

With $20,000 of college debt already accrued, those are questions Braatz wants answered.

On Friday, Senator Merkley spoke to a crowd in the UO Library, hoping to address some of those concerns.

"This isn't a loan. This is a contract to pay a share of your income. And, these details can be worked out we'll wrestle with the details, but we need the vision." Merkley said.

The senator said he doesn't know how it will come together just yet. With the national average of college debt climbing to $24,000 per student, he hopes to make a proposal at the nation's capitol sometime next month.