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Oregon Promise Bill is now a reality

Community college tuition to be free for students within 6 months of high school graduation

Provided by oregonlegislature.gov
Gov. Kate Brown signs Senate Bill 81 at Columbia Gorge Community College.

Oregon students will now be eligible to attend community college for $50 per term, a significant discount from the $1,500 cost of attending full-time currently.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the Promise Bill and other higher education pending funding should improve college affordability for families, according to her press release.

"Orgonians can now afford to dream big,” Brown said, “Today, we fling wide open the doors of opportunity by expanding access to post-secondary education, the precursor to a better life.”

The program starts in 2016. Students have to be an Oregon resident for a least 12 months plus apply for government financial aid and maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average.

Students also must apply within six months of finishing high school to be eligible.

Critics wonder who is going to pay for the bill. The state will spend 10 million a year to fill in the tuition gaps that state and federal aid don’t cover.

Another big selling point for Oregon Promise, also known as Senate Bill 81, is the $7 million dollars Oregon has promised to help recipients get to graduation. These funds are said to be allocated to help with counseling and college readiness programs in the K-12 schools. These funds have yet to be allocated because the commission must propose to the legislation how to spend it, according to Paul Fain from Inside Higher Education. Funds will also be spent on college advising.

Umpqua Community College student Christina Terhune states the bill is unfair. She said that the students at our community college are all ages and have all different income levels. “There needs to be a bill that helps all students, not just high school graduates.

“It is discrimination to only help one age group when all students struggle financially and are in debt from students loans,” Terhune says.

In the United States, 40 million people carry student debt; “Student loans increased by 84 percent since the recession; 40 million consumers now have at least one student loan,” according to Experian, a global information services company which partners with American Student Assistance to help students manage their student loan debt.

“I think it is great for the students coming in; as with any change, there will be those that ask ‘what about me.’ I think this is not a good way of looking at it. I look at it like this, the new students won’t have this debt, and that’s great. People that are in college right now should understand that there is no way to make something like this retroactive,” Terry Goldworth, a UCC third year student, stated.