The state of Oregon is encouraging high school seniors to continue with higher education with free tuition to a community college.
The state will be the second one to offer the program after Tennessee. Once the high school seniors have graduated, they could apply for the grant to enroll in a two-year course from a community college within the state. The state will grant a minimum of $1,000 per student, which they can use for tuition, books and other expenses. Tennessee launched the same type of program in 2014.
Oregon is also reviewing the cost of the grants and scholarships for each student and is looking at paying the balance of the cost that the federal and state aid would not be able to cover. Public officials are looking at this program to help increase not only graduate rates in high school but also increase enrollment in college.
The free college tuition of Oregon, called the Oregon Promise, will start in academic year 2016-2017 and will provide the state’s high school graduates with tuition waivers after the strict requirements have been met.
For the first two years, the program has a maximum fund of $10 million and its implementation will be modelled after the Tennessee program. A student applying for a grant must have at least a grade point average (GPA) of 2.5; must prove that he or she is a resident of Oregon for at least one full year and must apply to a community college within six months after their graduation.
Promise Oregon will cover the balance remaining on the computed tuition of a student applying for the grant after the application of all state and federal financial aid. Likewise each grant applicant must pay a community college term fee of $50 each term.
The program is set to benefit students from low and moderate-income families and will be a big boost for high school students to persist and work toward a college degree. Oregon Promise could be of great benefit to about 4,000 to 6,000 students during its first year of implementation. The legislators are already looking at expanding the program in the coming year.
In Tennessee, over 80 percent of those who applied for grants received partial or full federal Pell grant funding, and the state paid for the balance.
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