Oregon aims to provide free community college

If bill is signed into law, Oregon will become second state in country to cover community college costs.

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If Senate Bill 81 is signed into law, Oregon will become second state in country to cover community college costs.

Sen. Mark Haas (D-Beaverton) proposed the idea that it would be fortuitous for citizens to invest in students instead of social services.

The new legislation, Senate Bill 81, offers a carrot: If eligible students apply for and receive federal grants for community college, Oregon will pay the balance of their tuition. The recipients must have lived in Oregon for 12 months, begin their community college course work within six months of finishing high school or the equivalent, take courses that are required for graduation and maintain a 2.5 grade point average. (And it’s not entirely free—each student must pay a minimum of $50 per term.)

In legislative testimony, Hass cited state estimates that it costs about $14,000 a year in social services and indirect costs to support each of the 70,000 Oregonians between the ages of 18 and 24 who are unemployed and have no education beyond high school. 

(SOURCE: Willamette Week)

The bill passed both houses with bipartisan support.

In the wake of the legislature announcing $30 million in funds for the state’s public universities, Portland State University president Wim Wiewel said the school would ease tuition hikes.

Officials did not specify what the new, lower tuition rate increase would be. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission, under the Oregon Education Investment Board umbrella, will determine what portion of the $700 million allocated by the legislature will go to each public university.

A PSU spokesman said the public universities actually needed $85 million to reach pre-recession budget levels, once the figures are adjusted for inflation. “The cuts have resulted in Oregon ranking near the bottom nationally for state support at No. 47,” said Scott Gallagher in a news release.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)