Oregon's free community college leaves some students out

Applicants must be current high school, GED students

Oregon's free community college program began accepting applications last month, but requirements may disqualify a significant number of students, Laura Devaney reports for eCampus News.

The Oregon Promise program will operate much like the Tennessee Promise program, as a "last-dollar" grant program. But unlike Tennessee's version, students in the Northwest state must have a 2.5 cumulative high school GPA and be current high school or GED program students who expect to graduate in the spring of 2016.

No prior graduating class will be eligible for the grant. Additionally, students will only have six months to enroll and begin classes before losing funding.

Why free tuition will not solve community colleges' major problems

Because the requirements are written into a bill passed by the Oregon Legislature, "it really leaves us no leeway in terms of grace period or petition process," says Endi Hartigan of the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

However, for students who just miss the GPA cutoff, the commission will look at their applications when spring grades are awarded.

"If they've managed to pull their GPA up, they're in," Hartigan says.

As of the end of November, 7,536 students had already applied, and one community college is preparing for a 6% bump in enrollment (Devaney, eCampus News, 12/2).

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