Oregon Promise, the source of many Central Oregon Community College students’ financial aid, may be facing large funding cuts or worse, the program may be completely cut from the list of programs funded by the Oregon State government.
The Oregon State Legislature proposed two budgets. One of these budgets was created by Governor Kate Brown. The other was created by the Ways and Means Committee, which is a group of Oregon’s legislators who get together to create a biennial budget for the state of Oregon. The final budget is given by the Ways and Means Committee, but is meant to have taken into account the Governor’s wishes as proposed in her budget.
Brown has proposed that Oregon spend $40 million to continue Oregon Promise and create a safety net so that current students, as well as future students can continue receiving aid to attend community colleges. However, the Ways and Means Committee proposed to completely cut the funding for Oregon Promise.
The committee does have rationale behind their decision.. Oregon Promise, when initially proposed was budgeted to cost the state $10 million. It has since cost the state $14 million.
Since Measure 97 did not pass in November, there is not enough tax revenue being generated in Oregon to continue paying high prices for certain programs.
The Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College sent their Legislative Coordinator Jori Messner to a statewide meeting where these changes were discussed.Messner mentioned that Oregon Promise was created to help students attend college who otherwise would not be able to, but that the program has not been reaching those at risk populations who need assistance paying for college. Instead, surveys have shown that Oregon Promise has been funding students who would attend college anyway.
Messner also stated that ASCOCC plans to be present at all of the decision-making legislative meetings regarding community colleges and public universities to ensure that COCC students’ voices are being heard.
Messner also stated that the Ways and Means Committee is interested in funding the Oregon Opportunity Grant instead, which is meant to assist students attending not only community colleges, but students attending public universities as well. There have been issues noted with the Oregon Opportunity Grant that would need resolved before Oregon State Legislature would increase funding by a large amount. For example, the 2.4 high school GPA requirement is not inclusive of students with disabilities or students who may have had one difficult year in high school. The Oregon State Government has discussed lowering this requirement or doing away with the requirement altogether, but its members have not reached any form of consensus.
Messner said that the Oregon Promise cuts will affect each student receiving aid if continued into the 2018 academic year. Any students graduating in 2018 would be most affected by the cuts since Governor Brown plans to keep students receiving aid for as long as possible.
If you are personally interested in rallying for our educational funding, the Ways and Means Roadshow will be making a stop in Madras on Feb. 18, 2017, ASCOCC is currently looking for any students willing to come and rally for student success.
McKayla Schneider | The Broadside