Student grant system spurs unease.Byline: Greg Bolt The Register-Guard
A landmark overhaul of Oregon's student financial aid system faces last-minute adjustments after legislators raised concerns about what will happen if too many people seek college grants.
On Friday, members of the education subcommittee sub·com·mit·tee
A subordinate committee composed of members appointed from a main committee.
Noun of the Joint Ways and Means WAYS AND MEANS. In legislative assemblies there is usually appointed a committee whose duties are to inquire into, and propose to the house, the ways and means to be adopted to raise funds for the use of the government. This body is called the committee of ways and means. Committee asked that an amendment be drawn up to clarify how grants will be adjusted if demand is greater than expected. The concerns are not expected to block passage of the legislation, which could move out of the subcommittee as early as Monday.
The new financial aid scheme, known as the Shared Responsibility Model, changes how tuition grants are allocated and significantly increases the amount most students will receive. It is part of a high-profile effort to make college more affordable in Oregon, where sharp increases in tuition and one of the lowest levels of state financial aid in the nation have combined to drive up student debt and put college out of reach for many residents.
Under the new model, anyone willing to contribute a specified share of the cost is guaranteed an education at a state college or university. The share for students is set at about half the annual cost of attendance, or $7,500, paid through work, scholarships or borrowing.
After figuring in a family contribution based on income and any federal grants, the state would pay whatever costs remain. Funding for the program would almost double, to $110 million from the current $60 million.
The new program uses a complex computer model developed by the Western Interstate in·ter·state
Involving, existing between, or connecting two or more states.
One of a system of highways extending between the major cities of the 48 contiguous United States.
Noun 1. Commission for Higher Education higher education
Study beyond the level of secondary education. Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, and art. to calculate the size of the grants, which are expected to average $2,103, up from the current $1,207. But subcommittee members worry that if the model is wrong - if, for example, more students apply for grants than expected - the state wouldn't be able to keep its promise to help all those who qualify.
That could force the Oregon Student Assistance Commission The Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC), established by the Oregon Legislature in 1959, is primarily charged with administering student financial aid programs, and through its Office of Degree Authorization, authorizing and regulating the granting of degrees by institutions , the agency that administers the grant program, to change the rules by reducing the size of grants, changing the income limits or making other adjustments. Those changes also might have to be made in the middle of the academic year after students have been told how much they'll receive, forcing them to scramble To encode (encrypt) data in order to make it indecipherable without having a secret key to "unlock" it. The term came from the early days of cryptography which camouflaged analog transmissions with secret frequency patterns. to find ways to fill the gap or even to drop out.
At Friday's meeting, the subcommittee directed the staff to prepare an amendment that sets statutory requirements for a steering committee steer·ing committee
A committee that sets agendas and schedules of business, as for a legislative body or other assemblage.
Noun that will monitor the program, and expands the panel's membership. It also will offer guidance on how to adjust grants should funding fall short.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Larry Galizio, D-Tigard, said a big part of the issue is legislators' discomfort at leaving decisions on how to adjust the grants up to the student assistance commission. The steering committee, which will include two legislators, is meant to provide some oversight
Oversight may refer to:
What legislators want to avoid most, Galizio said, is a situation where the commission promises higher grants than it can deliver.
"That would be a disaster," he said following the meeting. "I think everyone is very concerned about that."
Margie Lowe, a higher education policy adviser to Gov. Ted Kulongoski Theodore R. "Ted" Kulongoski (born November 5 1940, in rural Missouri) is an American Democratic politician. Since 2003, he has served as the Governor of Oregon. He was re-elected in 2006. , said the governor's office is confident the models will be accurate and that major changes to the grant program won't be needed.
But if they are, she suggested they be based on family income to ensure that the most needy need·y
adj. need·i·er, need·i·est
1. Being in need; impoverished. See Synonyms at poor.
2. Wanting or needing affection, attention, or reassurance, especially to an excessive degree. students see the least reduction.
But she said the state shouldn't underestimate grant awards, either, because that could cause some students who need help to decide not to go to college.
Galizio acknowledged that because the model is new and involves so many variables lawmakers are simply nervous about how it will work. In the end, said Sen. Vicki Walker Vicki Walker (Born on May 29, 1956 in Monroe, Washington) is a politician from the U.S. state of Oregon and a member of the Democratic Party. She has been elected to political office in both houses of the Oregon Legislature. , D-Eugene, it's going to require some faith.
"We just have to have a little more trust here," she said.