Like most states, Oregon has its own share of grants for college students attending higher learning, regardless of whether the student is attending a secondary education public or private school. Many of the grants available are criteria-based or performance-based. However, a number of opportunities exist that simply need to be applied to for gaining a chance at valuable financial aid.
Most of Oregon’s student grants are coordinated and approved by the Oregon Student Aid Commission, so at a minimum all prospective and attending college students should review the Commission’s program and information. Much of the detail is available on the Commission’s website.
No Oregon grants are automatically provided. A student seeking aid needs to proactively ask for it. The simplest method is to fill out the financial aid paperwork at the college or university being attended and the federal application form, the FAFSA. Both forms will trigger review to provide you random grants made available from the government.
This can open up the ability for direct federal grants as well as subsidized student loan opportunities. Sometimes, government grants offered may only give $500 or $1,000 in a year. Other times they may offer you the maximum available. A student won’t know for sure what she will get until an application is put in. A new application is required for each year of study.
Common federal grants available to Oregon students include the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant), the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and the widely known Federal Pell Grant. Recipients are frequently notified by the financial aid office of the school they are attending.
From Oregon State the grant to aim for is the Oregon Opportunity Grant. Intended to help those students who need financial aid the most just to be able to attend college, there is a very good chance of being a recipient. Annually, almost 40,000 students are awarded some version of the Opportunity Grant in varying amounts.
The grant requires applications to be U.S. citizens studying in an undergraduate college program. Both community college students and those in private colleges can apply. An eligible student cannot be incarcerated, convicted of a drug felony, or studying a religious program. Selective Service registration (i.e. military draft registration) must have been submitted first before applying.
If a student is awarded the Federal Pell Grant, he can also be eligible to receive the Oregon Academic Competitiveness Grant. The eligibility is triggered by an award in the Federal Pell Grant program.
The grant requires students to have already completed advanced courses in high school that would otherwise have been taken in college. Advanced placement scores are required as well as a 3.0 GPA for an initial year in college. Federal student loan status and criminal background rules apply as well.
A federally-funded congressional grant is available to 18 Oregon students annually through the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship. This grant pays recipients up to $1,500 annually based on academic merit. Recipients can renew annually while in school for continued support.
The grant is a difficult one to obtain. Minimum grade performance required equals a 3.85 GPA or a GED test score of more than 3,300. Students also need to have an ACT score over 29 and a Math SAT score exceeding 1300.
For those in the math and science arena, Oregon schools provide access to the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant. A federal-funded grant opportunity, recipients must have already been awarded the federal Pell Grant, and be full-time in a science or math studies program.
Grants provide recipients up to $4,000 annually for school cost support. The grant is one-time in nature and has an unpredictable pattern of availability year-to-year.
In an odd-twist, some Oregon federal grants are available as long as a student works part-time for an eligible employer. The Federal Work Study Program through Oregon schools will award eligible recipients an amount of funds they have to earn. A notice will be provided to those awarded. The student then has to find an employer who participates in the program, typically on campus or related to the school in some way.
The student can then work part-time and earn up to the amount specified on the award letter. Unfortunately, the award amount does not mean the student is guaranteed these funds; it is simply a total pot of available grant award for the student’s work. Eligible students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week.
For youth who were raised in the state foster care system, obtaining higher education can be particularly challenging having no parental support. Such students can apply for the Oregon Chaffee Grant for Foster Care Students which awards recipients as much as $3,000 annually for college costs.
Along with past foster care status verified by court documents, the recipient must be a U.S. citizen, not be incarcerated, not be convicted of a drug felony, and must show a financial need as well as be under age 22.
For those students who are young parents and still trying to obtain a college degree, Oregon state offers the Oregon Student Child Care Grant which gives varying amounts of financial support to take care of young children while the student parents attend college classes.
Aside from a requirement of being an Oregon native, the student must have a legal child under age 12 and be enrolled at least half-time in a participating, accredited college or university. The student cannot have bounced any prior student loans, and the same criminal requirements as the above grants apply to the Student Child Care Grant as well.
For those students who are direct relatives or children of a public safety official who died or was officially disabled in the line of duty, the Oregon Deceased or Disabled Public Safety Grant can be pursued. This financial aid helps dependent students obtain funds for tuition, fees and books annually (a renewal application is required).
The recipient must be a former public safety officer dependent, be an Oregon resident, and meet the financial need assessment by the Oregon Student Assistance Commission. Additionally, they cannot have any bad prior federal loans and the aforementioned criminal background criteria applies as well.
For those interested in a career in hair styling or being a hair barber, a minor grant known as the Oregon Barber and Hairdresser Grant Program can provide as much as $600 a year towards studies.
The program is available for students pursuing a career through a licensed program in hair dressing, cosmetology, or being a barber. Full-time student status is required as well as similar criminal background and past federal student loan status as noted in the above grants.
The Ford Family Foundation was established by the Roseburg Forest Product Company owners and works in coordination with the Oregon Student Assistance Commission in providing four types of grants. These include the Ford Scholars Program (136 students eligible annually), the Ford Scholarship Opportunity Program, the Ford Restart Scholarship Program (30 students eligible annually), and Ford Sons and Daughters Program.
The first three programs offer as much as $25,000 a year or 90% of a student’s costs annually to attend college. The fourth program awards grants ranging from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on whether the school attended is a two-year or four-year program.
All grant recipients must be Oregon residents and be attending a secondary education institution in Oregon. The Sons and Daughters program specifically requires recipients to be legal children or dependents of Roseburg Company employees under the age of 21 and studying.
The Casey Family Scholars Scholarship works similar to the Oregon Chafee Grant, providing financial aid for former foster children now attending college.
On a significant note, this grant offers up to $10,000 annually for such students in financial need to support their secondary education. Oregon students are not limited to just Oregon schools; the program will support study nationwide at an accredited college or university. Students must be under the age or 25 years, however.
A vocational support exists for those seeking financial aid for trade skills. The Angelina and Pete Costanzo Vocational Scholarship will support a student for up to $2,330 annually. Nine high school students will get picked each year to take advantage of this grant in Oregon.
Two minor grants are available, both offering students up to $1,000 annually in education funds. The Ben Selling Scholarship and the Benjamin Franklin/Edith Green Scholarship both focus on supporting eligible high school students to seek higher learning. Almost 30 high school students will be chosen annually between both programs as recipients.
For those in their first year of college as a freshman, first-year book funds could be obtained through the Ida M. Crawford Scholarship. 63 college freshman students each receive $577 annually as a grant for attending in in state college or university in Oregon.
Along with the Crawford Scholarship, additional funds can be obtained for the subsequent years of college in-state by applying for the Jerome B. Steinbach Scholarship. This grant funds $685 to 93 college students in the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th year of college as long as the study is within Oregon.
Those focusing on teaching as a career can add to the above grants by also pursuing the Teacher Education Scholarship which pays $500 a year to four to ten lucky college students annually. Again, eligible teaching students must be going to schools in Oregon.
For a larger pot of funds to help with tuition, students should be pursuing the Pride Foundation/Greater Seattle Business Association Scholarship, which can pay out anywhere from $500 to as much as $10,000 annually. Up to 100 college students will be awarded annually through this program and there is no restriction where they can study. Eligible awards will fund studies in Oregon as well as out-of-state if they meet the program’s criteria.
Many of Oregon’s colleges and universities have their own grants within the school programs for attending students. Eligibility requires the student to already be attending the school and to also be a member of a specific program offering the given grant.
For example, the University of Oregon’s College of Education offers students its own scholarship grant ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 annually. With as much as $365,000 available, a significant number of grants will be provided to participating students.
The University of Oregon also offers its students the PathwayOregon program which, when combined with federal student grants, helps pay for secondary education tuition and fees at the university. Applicants must meet low-income criteria as well as minimum academic scores for eligibility.
Applicants are admitted into the program in freshman status only. The program pays the student’s tuition and fees for limited time, covering 12 terms of attendance at the University.
A critical factor to remember about any grants is that they are frequently one-time in nature. Unless you win a grant that specifically pays an amount of funds for each year of college, the amount awarded will be one-time only. This means that the following school year, you will need to go out and find new grants or new cash sources to pay for outstanding tuition and school costs. While the funds will definitely help those that apply and win, they should not be depended on as a permanent source of financial help.
Second, many grants have specific requirements for their use. Federal grants, for example, can only be used on higher education costs such as tuition and books. Living costs are allowed as well, but using the funds to invest in the stock market or a trip to Vegas can get you in trouble. At the least, you would be required to pay the grant funds received back.
Private grants may have similar requirements, which vary by granting organization. Frequently, awarding organizations want to highlight their recipients, so any bad press or questionable behavior while in school could result in the granting organization demanding its funds back after the fact.