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As is the case in most parts of America, Oregon student loans are no joke: more than half the state’s four-year graduates are in debt to the tune of $28,628 on average. Oregon is home to seven public universities and more than a dozen private colleges, including research institutions, seminaries and schools focusing on traditional Chinese medicine.
If you’re looking for Oregon student aid, the good news is, you’ve got options. Here are three places to turn for school funds, in order of preference, along with some information on how much Oregon schools cost:
Oregon grants, scholarships and more
As awesome as student loans can be, money you don’t have to pay back is even better. There are a number of Oregon grants and scholarship programs that can help reduce how much you might pay for your education.
Oregon Promise, for example, is a state grant that helps cover the cost of tuition at Oregon community colleges for recent high school graduates and GED recipients. Awards range from $1,000 to $4,005 per year, and you may be eligible to receive these funds until you’ve attempted a total of 90 college credits.
Here are some other grants and scholarships for Oregonian students to consider:
Deceased or Disabled Public Safety Officer Grant
The Deceased or Disabled Public Safety Officer Grant is available to the dependents of Oregon public safety officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty. Successful applicants may receive up to $13,000 per academic year.
Public safety officers whose dependents may be eligible for this grant include:
- Corrections officers
- Fire service professionals
- Parole and probation officers
- Police officers
- Reserve officers
- Youth correction officers
Dependents must also be under the age of 25 at the time they submit their application, must not yet have achieved a baccalaureate or higher degree, and must have been Oregon residents for at least 12 months before applying.
A list of the Oregon institutions at which this grant is acceptable can be found here.
Oregon Barber and Hairdresser (B&H) Grant Program
Planning to go to beauty school? The Oregon Barber and Hairdresser (B&H) Grant Program provides one-time awards of varying amounts to eligible students. Eligibility requirements include:
- Oregon residency
- Attendance at a licensed school of barbering, hair design, cosmetology, or manicure in the state of Oregon that participates in the Barbers and Hairdressers Grant Program (reach out to your institution directly to confirm participation)
- Full-time enrollment in a program which is at least nine months or 900 clock hours long
- Significant and demonstrable financial need
Applying for the B&H Grant Program is one and the same as submitting the FAFSA in Oregon. Simply list the beauty school you plan to attend on your application.
Oregon Chafee Education and Training Grant
Current and former foster care youth may be eligible for the Oregon Chafee Education and Training Grant, which offers needs-based awards in amounts no larger than $5,000 per academic year.
The award is available for a maximum of five years per successful applicant, and up until a maximum student age of 26. (For full eligibility requirements, click here.)
In order to apply for the Chafee ETG, you must file both the Chafee application and the FAFSA. The Independent Living Program at the Department of Human Services will review your application to ensure your eligibility.
Oregon National Guard State Tuition Assistance
The Oregon National Guard State Tuition Assistance, or ONGSTA, is for current National Guard Members seeking undergraduate degrees at eligible post-secondary schools in Oregon. Guard Members must also be Oregon residents seeking in-state tuition, and in some terms, only certain degree programs are eligible for funding.
At Oregon community colleges and public universities, the program will provide full funding for in-state residency tuition rates — for up to 90 quarter credits at community colleges and 180 quarter credits for four-year programs. At eligible private schools, the program offers tuition funding up to the average base in-state resident tuition rate as determined by the rates of the state’s seven public universities. (In the 2019-2020 school year, that rate came out to $207 per credit hour.)
Along with being an Oregon Guard Member, eligible students must also:
- Complete basic military training
- Have a current passing Annual Physical Fitness Test (APFT) score
- Not be the current subject of any adverse actions
- Be currently drilling
- Not have already achieved a baccalaureate or higher degree
- Not be in default on existing student loans
- Maintain enrollment and good standing at an eligible institution
Application requirements include filing a FAFSA and creating a profile with the Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC). For full application details based on your specific military experience and a list of eligible private post-secondary institutions, click here.
Oregon Opportunity Grant
The largest state-funded, need-based grant program in the state, the Oregon Opportunity Grant awards up to $2,778 for community college and $3,600 for four-year college or university students to about 40,000 students each year. Eligible students must be Oregon residents and seeking their first undergraduate degree, and must maintain at least half-time enrollment.
To apply, you must submit either the FAFSA or ORSAA — the Oregon Student Aid Application — by the appropriate deadline for your institution. OSAC notifies students via email if they’ve received the award, starting in mid-April, and the award will also be listed in the Financial Aid Award Letter you receive from eligible institutions that have accepted you.
As mentioned above, the Oregon Promise Grant helps recent high school graduates cover tuition costs at Oregon community colleges. The Grant is also available to eligible GED recipients.
Eligible students must also have a cumulative high school GPA of 2.50 cumulative high school GPA or higher, or have scored at least a 145 grade on the GED test.
Successful applicants will receive up to $4,005 per year for full-time enrollees, though there is a $50 co-pay per academic term. To apply, you must submit both an ORSAA or FAFSA as well as submitting an Oregon Promise application at the OSAC Student Portal. Click here for full details.
Oregon Student Child Care Grant
School is tough enough when you’re just taking care of yourself. For parents, it’s even harder. The Oregon Student Child Care Grant helps Oregon residents who are the parents of children aged 12 or under obtain the child care they need to successfully achieve their bachelor’s degree.
This program offers a maximum award is $10,000 per academic year — though your exact funding will be calculated based on the number and age of your children, your location in the state of Oregon, and the actual cost of child care. You must also be a first-time degree seeker, maintain satisfactory academic progress, and not be in default on an existing federal loan.
Oregon’s Office of Student Access and Completion, or OSAC, offers more than $17 million in scholarship awards each year through over 600 programs. While the specifics of these programs vary, you can be considered for all of them in one fell swoop by submitting an OSAC Scholarship Application.
Federal student loans in Oregon
Federal student loans, or loans offered by the government, are usually one of the first options students consider when looking for funding. Federal loans can be more flexible than private loans, and borrowers don’t need a credit check to be considered in most cases.
There are several different types of federal student loans, each with its own specific eligibility requirements, terms and benefits. All federal student loans are sought by filing a FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Types of federal student loans include:
- Direct Subsidized Loans, whose interest is paid, while you’re in school and for the first six months after graduation, by the U.S. Department of Education
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans, whose interest the borrower is always responsible for paying
- Direct PLUS Loans, which can help parents of undergraduates pay for educational expenses (and are also available to professional and graduate students)
- Direct Consolidation Loans, which can help a borrower combine multiple federal student loans into a single loan as a form of student loan refinancing
The interest rates of federal student loans may differ each academic year, but is fixed for every borrower based on the type of loan. Which is to say: your creditworthiness has nothing to do with the interest rate you’ll pay on your federal student loan debt, but it will if you turn to the private sector.
Federal student loans are also eligible for a wider range of flexible repayment plans than many private loans, including a variety of income-based repayment strategies. Federal student loans may also be forgiven in certain circumstances, so long as borrowers meet specific criteria. For instance, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program can forgive loans for those employed by full-time federal, state, local and tribal government employees after those borrowers have made 120 qualifying payments.
Private student loans in Oregon
Private student loans are another source of Oregon financial aid. Private loans come from a wide range of providers, including banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.
Unlike federal student loans, however, private student loans’ terms and interest rates vary based on both the lender and the borrower. Your credit score may be pulled in order to qualify you for loans, or you may have to enlist the help of a cosigner. Private Oregon loans may also impose repayment penalties and lack the protections and flexibility offered by the U.S. government, though specific terms must be confirmed directly with the lender.
Even some of the best private student loans sometimes have interest rates as high as 12% or more, so in many cases, starting with federal student loans is the best practice. You can always refinance to private student loans if you’re approved. Oregon Community Credit Union offers competitive student loan interest rates , and Oregon State Credit Union partners with Sallie Mae to offer financial aid options.
In-state vs. out-of-state tuition in Oregon
As in all states, Oregon tuition rates can vary widely based on whether or not you’re a resident — and on the institution itself. Here are some sample rates for the 2020-21 school year:
University of Oregon
- Tuition and fees (in-state): $13,857
- Tuition and fees (out of state): $39,309
Oregon State University
- Tuition and fees (in-state): $11,715
- Tuition and fees (out of state): $31,215
Portland State University
- Tuition and fees (in-state): $10,081
- Tuition and fees (out of state): $29,837
It’s important to understand that many colleges and universities offer institution-specific financial aid and scholarship options. For instance, Reed College, a private institution in Portland whose tuition and fees cost more than $60,000, claims to meet “100% of the demonstrated need of all admitted students international or domestic, for all four years.” Be sure to check with your school of choice directly to ensure you’re aware of all available aid.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this post.