Oregon Becomes Second State To Offer Free Tuition To All Graduating High School Students

Thousands of recent high school graduates in Oregon now have the chance to attend community college without the worry of accumulating loads of debt they may never be able to pay back, as lawmakers in the state recently approved a bill to establish the second program in the country to offer students help in paying for college.

The Portland Tribune reports that legislators in the state gave the go-ahead to establish a project known as the Oregon Promise aimed at helping students achieve their dreams of higher education while remaining relatively debt-free.

Modeled after a similar program in Tennessee, the Oregon Promise, which would begin with the 2016-17 academic year, provides tuition waivers to recent high school graduates that meet a set of strict requirements.

Under the program — which is capped at $10 million for the first two years — students are eligible if they earned at least a 2.5 grade point average and are Oregon residents for at least 12 months, and apply to community college no more than six months after graduation.

The program works by covering the balance of a student’s tuition after all federal and state financial aid is applied. That means students will still likely graduate with some debt.

Additionally, prospective participants must pay $50 to the community college per term.

The bill was introduced by Senator Mark Hass, who said the program could go a long way in helping to cut down on the number of young residents who are unemployed, the Willamette Week reports.

“A lifetime of food stamps is much more expensive than the annual community college tuition of $3,000,” Hass said during testimony for the bill.

The program in Tennessee has been fairly successful since implementation last year.

More than 80% of the students who took part in the program got full or partial grant funding from federal Pell grants, while the state picked up the balance, Willamette Week reports.

Oregon students get tuition help from ‘promise’ [Portland Tribune]
Oregon Will Become Second State to Offer Free Community College [Willamette Week]

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