With the establishment of the $10 million Oregon Promise, state lawmakers are betting that the cost of the program will return savings in the form of a reduction of services needed.
“A lifetime of food stamps is much more expensive than the annual community college tuition of $3,000,” said Senator Mark Hass, who introduced the bill that passed this summer.
The Promise is intended for recent Oregon high school graduates who had at least a 2.5 GPA in high school and pursue a certificate or degree from one the state’s 17 community colleges. That same GPA is required at the college level to maintain the annual $1,000 grant.
The program — which expects to award about 5,000 scholarships starting in 2016-17 — covers the balance of student tuition after all federal and state financial aid is applied, which means students will still likely graduate with minimal debt. The range of the award at this time is $1,000 (even if a student’s tuition is covered by other aid) to about $4,900.
The measure — which passed the state’s Senate and House by wide margins — is “not intended to reach all students,” said Rep. Mark Johnson. “But the status quo is clearly not working.”