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Oregon Promise continues to help make college affordable

 

The Oregon Promise received a $40 million dollar budget, $8 million less than expected. Photo by Jenaro Ramirez .

After a rocky start, the dream of a post-secondary education continues to be within reach for students thanks to the Oregon Promise.

The Oregon Promise is a grant program that allows recent high school graduates and GED recipients to attend community college for a reduced cost. After a mostly successful first year of the program during the 2016-17 school year, the Oregon Promise has returned for the 2017-18 school year.

Approximately 950 students have entered Chemeketa using the Oregon Promise grant this second year; however, that number could have been higher if not for some legislative issues.

The Oregon State Legislature failed to allocate enough funding to the program, and as result of this budget deficit, eligibility requirements have changed to only allow applicants with an Expected Family Contribution of less than $18,000 be eligible. This means fewer people are eligible to receive the grant.

These budgetary troubles arose from the unexpected popularity of the program.

“They weren’t expecting as many students to apply the first year,” Jose Ceja Garibay, a Chemeketa academic adviser and Oregon Promise success coach, said.

While the program isn’t currently in danger of completely disappearing, it still must be funded in order to provide opportunities to students who need them.

“We’re opening doors, and students have been able to use this program as a starting point in their careers and pursuing their dreams,” Garibay said. “It’s definitely something that has a big impact.”

One Oregon Promise recipient, Leah Jacobo, said that without the grant, she wouldn’t have been able to afford attendance at Chemeketa.

“It’s a great program,” she said. “It’s really helped me to pursue my dream of music education.”

While the program did face some hurdles going into the second year, the future is not entirely bleak.

“We have the first and second year students here; it’s working out, it’s moving forward,” Garibay said. “There hasn’t been any major issues with the students that we have. I can see the program growing.”

The program is guaranteed a third year, after which it will fall into review. The Oregon State legislature will then decide whether or not the program will be renewed for additional years.

“It’s one of those programs that students really want to take advantage of,” Garibay said. “Students know that with this they’re going to be able to at least achieve something.”