Pay It Forward was developed by the Economic Opportunity Institute, a Seattle-based non-profit, in 2011. In 2012, a group of Portland State University students found EOI's proposal when researching solutions to the student debt crisis. Fast forward six months and that same group of students was championing Pay It Forward in the Oregon State Legislature. On July 1, 2013, the Oregon legislature unanimously passed the nation's first Pay It Forward bill.
In just one year, 25 state legislatures have introduced Pay It Forward legislation and federal bills to subsidize start-up costs have been introduced in both chambers of Congress. California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico and Maine have passed Pay It Forward study bills and are moving forward to design their state's first tuition-free pilot programs.