The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) reports data and research to inform statewide efforts to improve college affordability. Here you can find information on the severity of the college affordability challenge that many Oregonians face. This information is intended as a call to action, with a focus on how the state’s policy and funding decisions impact affordability for Oregonians.
HECC analyses make it clear that a large percentage of Oregon students and their families cannot afford the costs of college, even with available support. Improving college affordability is one of the
key strategic goals of the Commission, and a critical factor in meeting Oregon’s
statewide attainment goals.
When we look at college affordability, we consider numerous factors and measures. Affordability can rise or fall depending on total college costs, the amount of financial aid available to students, the cost of credits lost when students transfer from community colleges to universities, the level of public funding of higher education, housing and food insecurity, student and family income, and more. We work to support college affordability through state financial aid, as well as multiple other strategies.
If you are a student seeking help paying for college, go to OregonStudentaid.gov.
Featured Affordability Data and Research
Progress on Affordability
The HECC reports annually on a statewide Affordability Measure for public community college and university students.
The HECC Affordability Measure: the percent of public postsecondary students who applied for aid and were unable to meet college/university expenses even after taking into account expected family contributions, student earnings, most institutional aid, and all grant aid.
- In the most recent year’s data (2021-2022),
34 percent of students could not meet the expected cost at their college or university.
This HECC Affordability Measure is available in more detail in our
Statewide Snapshots and
Key Performance Measures. While we have made progress on this measure, Oregon has far to go to fully support learners.
2023 Issue Brief: Affordability Improves in Oregon's Colleges and Universities from 2020-2022. This research brief describes improvements in affordability at public colleges and universities in Oregon and the underlying reasons behind these improvements.
Featured Reports on Financial Aid
One of the key levers the state has to improve affordability is state financial aid, and the
HECC Office of Student Access and Completion administers numerous
grants and scholarships that serve students. The state’s largest financial aid program, the Oregon Opportunity Grant, is strongly linked to student success.
Report to the Oregon Legislature: Oregon Opportunity Grant, 2022
Financial aid through grants has trailed behind the rising cost of attendance, and Oregon’s per-student funding of financial aid is lower than the national average and that of West Coast peers. Learn more in our most recent
Legislative budget presentations.
Explore Affordability Data
Key Performance Measure (KPM) on Affordability – Our KPMs include the HECC Affordability Measure, described above. We report this for students overall and by race/ethnicity.
Statewide Snapshots – The Snapshots include numerous measures of affordability presented statewide and by institution, including the HECC Affordability Measure, average cost of attendance, percentage of students receiving grant aid, student loan burden, and more.
Interactive Data on Students and Outcomes – This interactive dashboard allows users to do custom searches for affordability data related to students at community colleges and public universities.
Financial Aid Application Data – Applying for many financial aid programs requires completion of the FAFSA or ORSAA. The HECC Office of Student Access and Completion reports data on the completion of financial aid application forms by high school students throughout the state.
Explore Legislative Reports
We produce formal legislative reports as directed by the Oregon Legislature, many of which are focused on affordability, including reports on the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the Oregon Promise, Open Educational Resources, HECC Evaluations of Public Universities with Governing Boards, and more. We also testify to the Legislature on affordability-related topics.