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Thousands To Benefit From Oregon Free Community College Bill

Gov. Kate Brown signs Senate Bill 81 at Columbia Gorge Community College on July 17.

Gov. Kate Brown signs Senate Bill 81 at Columbia Gorge Community College on July 17.

Office of the Governor

A bill promising free community college to eligible Oregon students is official state policy. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill Friday, limiting college tuition to $50 per term — a big discount from the $1,500 cost of attending full-time.

Brown said the free college fund and other higher education spending should improve college affordability for families.  

“Oregonians can now afford to dream big,” Brown said. “Today we fling wide open the doors of opportunity, by expanding access to post-secondary education.”

Students have to apply for government financial aid and maintain at least a 2.5 grade-point average. 

The program doesn’t start until Fall 2016, and eligibility is limited to students within six months of finishing high school. So it will exclude the vast majority of current community college students. 

There’s no income ceiling on the program. But the law allows the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to prioritize how it spends the $10 million in the free community college fund.

The commission is also expected to resolve whether the state’s new grant funds will cover the cost of fees and books, or just tuition.

Officials said the program will assist between 4,000 and 6,000 Oregon community college students. The state counted more than 140,000 community college students in 2013.

Oregon community college education

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