MONMOUTH – In response to the unfortunate need for the Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC) to reduce the Oregon Opportunity Grant award amounts to the state’s neediest students, Western Oregon University has increased its financial aid so that current WOU students receiving the Oregon Opportunity Grant will not be affected. This support will include students who were eligible to receive their awards but have since been would have been excluded because either they delay their initial enrollment at WOU until winter term 2009 or due to delays in finalizing data from their FAFSA.
On December 8 OSAC decided to reduce the spring term award amount for current recipients of the Opportunity Grant by $80 for fulltime and $40 for halftime students. Current WOU recipients of the Oregon Opportunity Grant will have their financial aid package adjusted by the WOU Financial Aid Office automatically for spring term so that they will not suffer a decrease in grant support. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid for 2009-10 by completing their FAFSA forms.
WOU is a leader in providing access to a high quality education especially to first-generation and students of color. According to Dave McDonald, Associate Provost, “providing this extra financial support is the right thing to do and is consistent with WOU’s emphasis on student access and success. We want to make sure that our students can continue their studies without the extra financial burden”.
In addition to the grant support to offset the Opportunity Grant reductions, WOU is also supplementing the federal Perkins Loan pool that is used by undergraduate students to help pay for college. The loan pool is normally refreshed by repayment of Perkins loans by former students. During this year the repayment levels have decreased from former students creating a shortage of new loan funds. WOU will add $250,000 to the pool to ensure eligible students have access to these loans.
Providing this additional WOU grant support is complementary to the Western Tuition Promise, which guarantees that the tuition level for Oregon undergraduate students and students from other Western states will not increase during the time that should take to complete a bachelor’s degree. WOU is the only public university on the west coast that has taken this action to keep college affordable.
Western Oregon University is the most popular small or midsized university for Oregon students. McDonald said, “Our campus planning and strong fiscal management has enabled WOU to be able to provide the additional financial support for these students.”
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