Cuts Mean Less Money for College Students

Article excerpt

Byline: GREG BOLT The Register-Guard

Oregon college students will receive less financial aid than promised next year under a budget-cutting plan approved Friday by the Oregon Student Assistance Commission.

The panel voted to reduce financial aid awards for winter and spring terms to help deal with a $1.6 million budget cut imposed by the Legislature in its last special session.

Commissioners agreed that would be less painful than holding grants at their current level and providing them to fewer students.

"This was a difficult decision to make," commissioner Bob Ward said in a statement released after Friday's meeting in Eugene. "We had to decide between reducing individual amounts or reducing recipients altogether. It was a lose-lose situation."

It may not be the last time this academic year commission members wrestle with this issue. They'll have to cut another $1.9 million from student aid if an income tax surcharge measure fails in a Jan. 28 special election.

The exact amount of individual financial aid reductions isn't known yet. The figure will depend on the number of students who claim grants awarded earlier this year and on final earnings from the state's Education Endowment Fund.

"We're waiting for the last possible moment to make that decision so the maximum number of students possible are covered," said Shelley Snow, outreach manager for the commission.

Snow said current estimates put the reduction at about $100 per term for community college students, $125 per term for state university students and $300 to $500 for private college students. …