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Plan & Pay for College

Pay for College

There are many ways to pay for college, but having a plan in place is essential for success. Whether you are attending a 4-year university, community college, certificate program, or career-training program, there are financial aid opportunities available to you.​

The HECC Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) is the entity that administers state financial aid, such as the Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon's largest need-based grant program, for the benefit of college-going Oregonians.

Understanding College Costs

Students should be aware of the variety of costs associated with college, including:

  • Tuition and Fees: instruction, labs, libraries, student activities, health centers, etc.
  • Room and Board: on-campus residence halls or off-campus housing, meals
  • Books and Supplies: textbooks and program-specific tools such as calculators or lab supplies
  • Personal Costs and Transportation: furniture, gasoline or public transit

Estimate your​ student costs and explore your financial options thoroughly.

  • Savings: explore opportunities to save for your educational expenses after high school, such as through the Oregon College Savings Plan. This 529 plan, sponsored by the State of Oregon, is an investment vehicle specifically designed for postsecondary education savings. 

Applying for Financial Aid

Financial aid programs are funds that help reduce the out-of-pocket costs of college.

A number of government and private programs offer financial aid to help students ​access higher education. These include grants and scholarships that students do not need to pay back, loan that must be paid back later with interest, work-study opportunities and more.

We encourage students to apply for as many forms of grant and scholarship aid as possible. Many states and colleges offer need-based aid, merit-based aid, student loans, and/or work-study opportunities:

  • Grants: funds that do not need to be repaid, available through federal and state governments, state agencies, and individual colleges
  • Scholarships: private funds that do not need to be repaid; obtained through a competitive application and selection process
  • Student Loans: borrowed money that must be repaid after college, with interest. There are different types of loans, each with their own repayment requirements and interest rates.
  • Work-Study: a program where students work while in college to help pay for school

Learn more about applying for public financial aid programs.​

Tips for Finding Aid

  • As soon as possible starting October 1, Oregon students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA)​ to be considered for numerous types of aid for which they may qualify.
  • Start exploring OSAC and private scholarships as soon as possible. Gathering your personal statements, reference letters, and transcripts early will make it easier to apply for more scholarships.​ ​The OSAC Scholarship Application is open annually from November 1 to March 1.
  • Families can start saving early with pre-paid tuition (where available) or 529 plans such as the Oregon College Savings Plan.
  • Veterans can explore GI benefits and ot​her resources to help pay for college.
  • Exhaust all funding opportunities that do not have to be repaid (scholarships, grants, work-study) before considering student loans. Look closely at interest rates when considering student loan choices.

State Financial Aid Resources

OSAC Outreach Resources
Image of Oregon with text Money for College

National Resources

  • College Navigator: search for and compare college criteria including costs, majors offered, size of school, campus safety and graduation rates.
  • College Scorecard: research a college’s affordability and value to make informed decisions.​
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