Pledge to take part in the Oregon Promise

Apply by March 1, 2016, to get all or part of your community college tuition paid 

By Gwen Soderberg-Chase


For high school seniors, winter is a busy time. There are applications to collect, forms to fill out and essays to write. Most are connected to post-graduation plans that have been made for work or further education.

Students with plans for the future in place already know what to do, and they’re on it. But what about the kids who are floundering because they’re uncertain what the future holds? Or, worse still, what about those who have given up hope for college or vocational training because they lack funds or guidance or both?


Douglas County students have always had access to a variety of scholarship and financial aid options, and history tells us our youth are highly successful in obtaining financial support for education past high school. A new opportunity exists this year that will open the door for even more students to go to college. Note this date: March 1, 2016. That’s the deadline to apply for the Oregon Promise, a program that offers to cover some or all community college tuition for members of the class of 2016.

This is news that I’d love to see hand-delivered to every Douglas County household with a graduating senior with a personalized message: THIS IS FOR YOU! Here are the details:

The program is open to all high school students graduating in the spring of 2016 who have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA and who have lived in Oregon for at least 12 months prior to enrolling in community college. Applicants also must enroll at least half time in community college in fall of 2016.

You can find the Oregon Promise application at Seniors must submit their high school transcripts and complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) or its approved equivalent. To qualify for the Oregon Promise, students must also accept all state and federal grants they are awarded.

This program is remarkable in many ways. First, it will widen the pool of Douglas County students who can view college as an affordable alternative. Second, it requires responsibility to maintain a certain GPA and demonstrate the initiative needed to apply for the program. That in turn builds confidence for kids that they will need as they navigate the next step to planning a future, and the next steps beyond that. Third, it shows underclassmen that they can start thinking now about what happens after high school.

So if you know any high school students who aren’t sure what to do after graduation, or who assume college is not for them because of a perceived lack of financial resources, please have a conversation with them about Oregon Promise. They can visit or talk to their school offices or school counselors. Help is also available from the Umpqua Community College financial aid office, 541-440-4602.

Don’t forget the program’s March 1 deadline. This effort could make a huge difference in the life of a young person, one who could return to make a positive contribution to our community in the years ahead.

Gwen Soderberg-Chase is the executive director of Douglas County Partners for Student Success, She has been an educator in Douglas County for 38 years. She also serves on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Umpqua Valley and SMART.

Education Matters: Your Choice, Your Future. Act Now.


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