The Oregon Promise’s tuition-free requirements leave out certain student groups

oregon-promiseHigh school seniors across Oregon are having visions of free-tuition fairies dance in their heads through the state’s Oregon Promise program.

But those visions are being shadowed by several deal breakers to the state’s new free community college program, the second of its kind in the nation. Tennessee Promise began earlier this year.

State officials opened the application process this month for the program, which will begin paying tuition at Oregon community colleges in fall 2016. As of last week, 7,536 students have applied.

The two programs are touted by the Obama administration as a solution to student-loan debt and a way to make college available for all.

Almost for all.

Both the Oregon and Tennessee Promise have requirements tied to the approval process that include residency restrictions, enrollment deadlines, grueling applications and, for Oregon, a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 based on current fall semester grades.

For those who barely miss the GPA cutoff, communications and policy specialist Endi Hartigan of the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission said they will take another look at the student’s final spring grades.

“We will update their GPA once their last set of grades are recorded,” Hartigan said. “If they’ve managed to pull their GPA up, they’re in.”

The 2.5 GPA, Hartigan affirmed, is the final cut off, which is a cause of concern for McCloughlin High School counselor Jeff Bockert.

“I wish there was a little more room for interpretation of GPA based on where you come from,” Bockert said.

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