Of the 1075 incoming freshmen welcomed this fall, 541 arrived with help from the Oregon Promise grant.
Oregon Promise is a state grant program that covers tuition for recent high school graduates and GED recipients. It is a “last dollar in” program, per Alicia Moore, dean of student and enrollment services at Central Oregon Community College. This means that any money a student receives from financial aid or another grant will first go toward the tuition payment, and Oregon Promise pays the rest.
“Oregon Promise helped the overall enrollment at the institution,” said Moore, citing a 20% increase in first-time students at COCC from the previous year.
To be eligible for Oregon Promise, students must enroll in an Oregon community college within six months of graduating high school or receiving their GED. Prospective students must also be Oregon residents for at least 12 months prior to enrollment, have a GPA of 2.5 or higher (or GED score of 145 or higher on each test), and have completed a FAFSA with at least one Oregon community college listed.
The objective of the grant is to support enrollment and success of underrepresented students.
“Why not take advantage of the opportunity?” said Brenda Nevins, whose son is preparing to take the GED test and plans on applying for the Oregon Promise grant upon receiving it. Nevins’ son current plan is to attend COCC in Spring of 2017 – an opportunity he would not have had without the GED program and Oregon Promise. Nevins is excited about the program since GED recipients are not always eligible to receive scholarships.
“Coming from the single mother perspective, it’s a life-saver,” Nevins said.
Unlike many scholarships offered to incoming freshmen, the Oregon Promise grant is not limited to a certain amount of students, nor does it prioritize who receives it.
Students who have earned college credit while in high school (via dual credit, advanced placement, fifth-year program, etc.) are also eligible to receive the grant, up to completion of 90 credits. In fact, 41% of Oregon Promise students also received a Pell grant this year.
The grant was created by the Oregon Legislature in 2015 and was first available this past fall term. For the first year pilot project, the legislature appropriated $10 million. Funding for the 2017-2018 is still subject to approval, but Moore is hopeful and confident in its continuation.
Although funding is still subject to approval, credentials for grant renewals have been laid out – students must maintain satisfactory academic progress at their respective community college, be enrolled in at least six credits for three consecutive terms, and keep the number of credits attempted below 90.
With help from an $82,990 grant given to COCC, the college has made some additional requirements of their own for incoming freshmen for the Fall 2017 term. These include: participation in academic advising, attendance at Bobcat Orientation, successful completion of a College Success class (HD 100CS), and maintenance of good academic standing throughout the year.
In addition to this support given by COCC, the Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) provides support to Oregon Promise students through text and email to send deadline reminders, and to help them stay on top of their college and career goals. Students also have the option of being assigned an “eMentor” who can provide more personalized support via text and email.
To apply for Oregon Promise, students can go to the OSAC student portal online to create an account and complete their FAFSA.
Marisa Funk | The Broadside