Paying for College

November 13, 2017

How Can I Afford College?

Students of all backgrounds can afford college. More than half of all college students in Oregon receive some sort of financial aid, including:
Grants and scholarships – these do not have to be repaid.

  • Loans – these must be repaid with interest.
  • Work-study – students get paid for working while in school.
  • You can start today by researching your options, and planning your college path.
Getting Started

If you are in high school:
  • Start with your high school guidance counselor or ASPIRE mentor, if ASPIRE is offered at your school. Tell them about your college interests, and ask for their help.
  • Go to and click on the “Plan & Pay for College” tab for information about financial aid basics and tips for getting scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial aid.
If you are an adult who is thinking about going back to college: If you are getting ready to attend college:
  • If you will be a first-year student in the fall, be sure to complete an application for admission to the college(s) you hope to attend and apply for financial aid. 
  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at The FAFSA is the required application for federal financial aid programs, the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the Oregon Promise grant, and many scholarships. Complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1, 2017, if you plan to attend college anytime between fall 2018 and summer 2019. DACA and other undocumented students can submit the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA), which is an alternative to the FAFSA, Students who complete the ORSAA will be considered for state grants and some private scholarships. 
  • Apply for the Oregon Promise grant if you are planning to graduate high school or receive a GED in 2017-18. The Oregon Promise grant covers most tuition at an Oregon community college for recent graduates. Students must complete an Oregon Promise application, meet GPA and other eligibility requirements, and enroll at an Oregon community college within 6 months of graduating high school or receiving a GED in Oregon. Application deadlines vary by high school graduation or GED completion date; enter your graduation or completion date in the Oregon Promise Term Eligibility Checker to determine your deadline. The application for 2018-19 will open in late September 2017. Details about requirements and deadlines are available at
  • Apply for scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year by filling out the online “OSAC scholarship application” administered by the Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC), and explore the scholarships offered at OSAC offers one common application for more than 500 scholarship programs that pertain to academic and career choices; specific populations; employers and membership organizations; and the high school from which the student graduated. The deadline is March 1, 2018, and applications submitted by February 15 qualify for an early bird review and a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Research which school and programs will best help you meet your goals by browsing campus websites, contacting admissions offices, or accessing the Oregon Career Information System at many schools, libraries, and all Oregon Employment Department offices. You can also use the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator website ( to search for colleges, build a list, and view side-by-side comparisons of costs and other features for up to four colleges at a time.
  • Contact financial aid offices and research college costs at the schools you are thinking of attending. Financial aid offices will have information about campus-based awards and application deadlines. They will also require FAFSA data (see above). Average costs for Oregon students are listed below, but individual student budgets vary by school and program of study.
  • Attend a College Night in Oregon event (February 2017 through April 2018 in various locations) to get help filling out your FAFSA and learn about available funding and scholarship tips. Go to for information.
  • If possible, attend a local “financial aid night” workshop or college fair.
  • Research application requirements and deadlines, and send in your completed applications to the colleges you are interested in.
For More Information

Call OSAC at (800) 452-8807 or visit for links to help you understand the financial aid process as well as information on careers, colleges, and how to fill out scholarship applications.

Source: Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion, an office of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

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