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A new paper from the Manhattan Institute looks at the small but growing number of income-share agreements in higher education, which give students the option of using some of their postgraduate income to help pay for college. The ISA model "transfers risk from the student to the investor," the paper said, noting that under the agreements the average student repays less than they would under a traditional student loan.

The institute described opportunities and barriers for expanding income-share agreements, concluding that the U.S. Congress should provide legal clarity as well as flexibility for experimentation.