October 23, 2002

Contact: Jeanie-Marie Price, 503-725-3773

Future Plans for Oregon's Financial Aid Announced

Portland, Ore. - Today in a press conference, a group of Oregon educational organizations gathered to announce the formation of a coalition to advocate for a three-biennia plan advanced by the Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC) to enhance the Oregon Opportunity Grant program.

The coalition, comprised of the Oregon Community College Association (OCCA), Oregon Independent Colleges Association (OICA), Oregon Student Association (OSA), OSAC and the Oregon University System (OUS), introduced a plan at the conference that outlines a plan to garner further funding for the Program.

"The State Board of Higher Education (OSBHE) believes it is critical that we stand with the Oregon Student Assistance Commission, community colleges and independent colleges and universities in the interest of Oregon students seeking higher education," said Jim Lussier, president of the OSBHE. " The Oregon Student Assistance Commission's request for additional support for the Opportunity Grant helps Oregon and should be extended to every eligible student."

The Oregon Opportunity Grant is the only state-supported financial aid program for Oregon's college students. Administered by OSAC, the Grant awarded over 30,000 students this past year. Because of the overall reduction in revenues for the state, more than 13,000 qualified, low-income Oregonians were not able to be served with Opportunity Grants this year, and that number is expected to rise to over 17,000 students in 2002 - 2003.

"This is an enormous challenge which Oregon must face. And while we can't accomplish it all at once, we must start now, said Chancellor Richard Jarvis, "Oregon students are being left behind and denied access to economic self-sufficiency and that is why the Oregon University System is so supportive of the Oregon Student Assistance Commission plan."

Participants who spoke at the press conference were OSAC Commissioners Jeff Svejcar and Brian Clem, Portland Community College President Jess Carreon, Western Oregon University president Philip Conn, Warner Pacific President Jay Barber, OUS Chancellor Richard Jarvis, OSA Representative and Portland State University student Miriam Gonzales, OCCA Representative and Portland Community College student Brian Ruzicka,


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