It’s that time of year! Students are submitting college applications and considering their options. It’s an exciting and hopeful time, but there is a dark cloud of uncertainty looming on the near horizon. Students and their families are wondering, “Can we afford it?”
My name is Ann Harris and I am the coordinator of Oregon State University Open Campus. My job includes helping students and their families find a path to higher education that is right for them and that they can afford. To clarify … I am not part of OSU admissions and recruiting. I work with all students, no matter where they plan to attend college. My program is part of OSU Extension, which is funded by Hood River County funds. My office is here in Hood River and I am here to serve you!
If you, or a student you know, is considering their college options and concerned about the cost, let’s focus on these key strategies:
1. Submit the FAFSA. That is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students must submit the FAFSA in order to be considered for federal and state grants, loans and work-study. The amount you qualify for depends on family income.
A Social Security number or DACA is required to submit the FAFSA (studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa).
2. Submit college applications now. Feb. 1 is the deadline for many colleges to be considered for admission and for college-based scholarships. Other college’s deadlines are coming up soon.
3. Submit the Oregon Promise application. For students starting at an Oregon community college, the Oregon Promise grant helps to cover tuition costs for recent high school graduates and GED test graduates. Note: Oregon Promise is available to students regardless of immigration status. Apply at oregonstudentaid.gov/oregon-promise.aspx.
4. Apply for scholarships. Many scholarships are available for students. Some are based on academics, some on financial need, others are based on activities, sports or specific affiliations of the student (example, a parents’ employer). Some scholarships are available to students who are under-represented in college like students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQ-plus students, rural students and others. There are several main sources of scholarships:
University-Based. Most colleges and universities offer substantial scholarships. Students are often be considered for them “automatically” when they apply for admission by the deadline. There may also be other scholarships available that require a separate application. Search the college website under “financial aid and scholarships” to find this information. If you don’t see it, call that department directly and ask.
Local. In Hood River, high school seniors will soon receive an application packet from their high school counselors to be considered for thousands of dollars of local scholarships. Don’t miss this opportunity!
State. These come from many sources across the state. Students need to submit the OSAC application (Oregon Student Access and Completion). With one application, students can be considered for many scholarships (oregonstudentaid.gov/scholarships.aspx).
National. Many companies, foundations, professional associations and private individuals offer scholarships to thousands of students across the country every year. There are many online sources to find these scholarships. Some reputable sources include: FastWeb, FinAid, Petersons, College Board or this scholarship information site administered by FAFSA (studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/finding-scholarships).
CAUTION: There are scholarship scams out there — Only use free search websites. For more information, go to studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/scams.
I hope these strategies will be helpful to you! Remember, act now … Deadlines are right around the corner. Soon, students will receive college acceptance letters that include a financial aid package of funds awarded. This means the “Bottom Line” cost. If sticker shock leaves you wondering what to do next, there is help available!
I am happy to meet with you and your student. Contact me, Ann Harris, at OSU Extension, 541-386-3343 ext. 38228. You can also get help and information from the Hood River Valley High School Aspire office at 541-387-5034.