Improving college affordability for Oregon students and families is a continuing priority of the HECC. Recent affordability initiatives address not only tuition and financial aid, but also time to degree, efficiency in credit transfer, student success support, textbook affordability, and more, in recognition of the numerous interrelated factors that influence affordability for Oregonians.
Continued Administration of Oregon's State Financial Aid Programs
Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG)
HECC Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) administers the Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon’s longstanding need-based financial aid program serving the lowest-income Oregonians with grants toward postsecondary expenses. Approximately 42,000 students used the OOG to fund their postsecondary educations in 2016-17. The OOG supports low-income students, including recent high school graduates and adults, who attend eligible public and private Oregon colleges and universities. As a result of HECC-sponsored legislation in 2015, Oregon began using a new methodology for awarding the OOG starting in 2016, prioritizing the highest-need students first.
The Oregon Promise is a relatively new program for the State of Oregon established through 2015 legislation, providing grants to support tuition at Oregon community colleges for recent high school graduates and GED recipients. The HECC first launched the Oregon Promise in 2016-17, and over 6,800 students received the Oregon Promise grant in its first year. With the continuation of this program through the state’s 2017-2019 investment, HECC will extend grants for eligible prior awardees and add grants for upcoming new cohorts of eligible students entering community college in the next two years. However, to operate within funding limitations, HECC has authority beginning in 2017 to implement limitations on eligibility for new applicants, using criteria related to expected family contribution.
Other Public Grants:
OSAC also administers the Chafee Grant, helping current or former foster care youth with postsecondary education and training, the Childcare Grant, assisting parents enrolled in postsecondary education, and more.
Funding Model that Incentivizes Supporting Students through Graduation
An increased focus on college completion recognizes that time-to-degree impacts student cost, and students who stop out do not gain the earning capability of a degree, compounding financial challenges. In 2015-16, the HECC began implementing the Student Success and Completion Model, a new funding model for Oregon’s seven public universities, incentivizing investments that lead to increased degree completion. The model will be fully implemented by the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Oregon is leading other affordability innovations, including:
Finally, HECC places continued state level focus on reinvestment in Oregon’s public colleges and universities to mitigate tuition increases for students. Despite significant state reinvestment in recent years, Oregon faces a steep funding challenge due to many years of underinvestment. HECC works closely with campuses, students, and state leaders on the levers that impact student cost, seeking meaningful solutions to protect affordable access to a college credential.
- HECC is successfully helping more Oregon high school seniors complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through Oregon’s FAFSA Plus+ program, a data partnership between HECC and Oregon high schools and partner organizations.
- With the passage of House Bill 2729 (2017), the State has invested in continuing efforts to develop and market free textbooks (Open Educational Resources- OERs) and course materials for use in Oregon public colleges and universities. This state effort was spearheaded by the HECC in coordination with campus-lead OER activities through House Bill 2871 (2015).
- HECC staff are involved in numerous collaborative campus efforts to streamline the community college to university transfer pathway, working to ensure students do not lose credits. With the recent passage of HB 2998 (2017) Oregon has a structure and momentum to improve the transfer process through the development of seamless 90-credit college to university transfer pathways.
- OSAC continues to partner with private foundations to administer over 500 private scholarships for Oregonians. Oregon students can explore and apply for these scholarships through one central website.
- Oregon offers the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) as an alternative to the FAFSA for non-U.S. citizens who are ineligible for federal aid through the FAFSA, including DACA or undocumented students.