Niche College Scholarship Blog


Fight for Free College in Oregon(?)

Fight for Free College in Oregon(?)
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Due to Oregon's $1.8 billion budget crisis, public university leaders want funding reallocated from the Promise program to the state's need-based grant, which is awarded to low-income students who attend Oregon's public universities.

Oregon Promise relies on federal and state financial aid programs to function. Federal grants already cover the majority of community college tuition costs for Oregon college students. Presidents and provosts of Oregon's public universities believe any additional state financial aid funding should "first go to full fund the need-based Oregon Opportunity Grant program, before appropriating additional funds to the Oregon Promise Program, which is not need-based," according to an Oregon State University spokesperson.

In order to qualify for Oregon Promise, students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, apply for the FAFSA, hold Oregon residence for one year and graduate from a high school or comparable GED program within one year of application. Recipients can attend most Oregon community colleges for a flat rate of $50 per term. Upon completing the program, students are then encouraged to apply to Portland State University to earn a bachelor's degree. Undocumented high school graduates are also eligible to apply, and there are roughly 70 of those students currently participating in the program.

The Promise program's first semester reached more students than expected - with 6,745 earning scholarship compared to 5,700 high school graduates in 2014 - and about 1,100 students who qualified for the program chose to attend a four-year institution and did not receive the grant. Enrollment of Oregon's high school graduates in the state's public universities also declined as well compared to recent years. Oregon Promise recipients from higher-income backgrounds increase program costs because they do not receive federal Pell Grants, according to Inside Higher Education.

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