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Dana Tims
By Dana Tims October 3, 2014

A new direction for state-funded college financial aid

In February, Kitzhaber testified before a legislative committee on a bill directing a state education commission to consider a program that could let Oregon high school graduates attend community college for a specified period without paying tuition and fees. The bill passed and a report by Kitzhaber's Higher Education Coordinating Commission on how such a program might work, and what it would cost, was turned in last month.

But the governor, via his appointees to the commission, instead came out in favor of vastly expanding state-funded college financial aid, beginning in fall 2016. The plan would direct all that increase toward meeting full financial need of all low- and modest-income Oregon students for their first two years of community college or university. That would leave middle-class students and their families largely on the hook to pay for the first two years of college, on the grounds they can afford it.

Other leaders, working on behalf of the governor, are pushing plans for every Oregon high school to offer students the opportunity to take at least three college-level classes for free or minimal costs while in high school.

Crystal Greene, a state Department of Education spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview, "That will both reduce their financial burden and help students see themselves as college-capable."

We'll call this a promise In the Works and wait to see how lawmakers react to the interim assessment.

Our Sources

Telephone interview, Crystal Greene, Oregon Department of Education communications spokeswoman, Oct. 1, 2014.

Email from Melissa Navas, spokeswoman for Gov. John Kitzhaber, Sept. 17, 2014.


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