History of the Oregon Opportunity Grant

1958

In 1958, a citizen discovers a dormant 1885 statute that allows each of 126 state legislators and judges to award free tuition at the Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) to one student per year. Applicant response is strong, and the public begins to demand a statewide student aid program.

1959

Governor Mark Hatfield engineers bipartisan support for a bill that creates a "District and County Award" and the Oregon State Scholarship Commission (the forerunner of OSAC) to administer the award. Awards are tuition remissions, funded initially by OUS institutions, with eligibility extended to undergraduates at all colleges and universities administered by the Board of Higher Education. As the Commission began operation, its programs were tuition and fee remissions for state institutions, funded by the institutions themselves.

1961

A separate scholastic grant program is created for students attending private nonprofit 4-year colleges. With Governor Hatfield's support, a modified version of the appropriation portion of the 1959 bill is introduced. Rather than extending the District and County program, the bill would create a "scholastic grant program." Awardees would be recent high school graduates chosen based on academic excellence and financial need. Awardees could choose among all accredited colleges in Oregon. Awards would be in the form of cash grants, subsidized by the State of Oregon, not the institutions. The program is called Oregon Cash Award.

1969

In the 1969 session, the Legislative Assembly creates a program that in 1971 became the Purchase of Educational Services from Independent Colleges (PESIC) to encourage private nonprofit 4-year colleges in Oregon to enroll Oregon resident undergraduates at a time when the public institutions were having difficulty meeting the demand of student enrollment. Through this program, private non-profit 4-year institutions were granted funds based on the FTE enrollment of Oregon residents. Initial allocations were $100 per Oregon resident FTE. While not specified, most institutions used these funds to assist needy Oregonians.

1971

The Oregon Need Grant (later renamed the Oregon Opportunity Grant) is created by the Oregon Legislative Assembly. Awards are based entirely on students' financial need, and students can use awards at Oregon community colleges as well as at four-year public and private institutions. The Community College Grant was also created, and the "District and County" program ended.

Grant eligibility is determined using the College Scholarship Service (CSS) need analysis system. No national system is in place, except for determining eligibility for the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (BEOG), which later become the Pell Grant program. (Use of the CSS need analysis system continued until 1976, when federal Uniform Methodology was adopted.)

Need Grant awards: all $500. PESIC awards increased to $250 per FTE.

Grants awarded year-round.

1972

Oregon Need Grant: same as 1971

1972

Oregon Need Grant: same as 1971

1973

The Commission makes awards that vary according to costs at the institution attended. Grants are equal to approximately 20% of student costs. Independent college costs are limited by a “tuition cap” equal to OUS tuition, plus the approximate state per-student instructional subsidy for OUS undergraduates. Community College students are incorporated into the Need Grant program, and the separate Community College Grant is discontinued.

1974

Congress creates the State Student Incentive Program (SSIG) to encourage states to establish state grant programs by providing federal matching funds on a dollar-for-dollar match.

1975

First SSIG matching funds are received. Funds are co-mingled with state funds and delivered as part of Need Grants. In response to concerns expressed by Emergency Board, Oregon Need Grant awards are coordinated with eligibility for the federal Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (BEOG). In this first year, awards are adjusted so that no student receives a combination of awards that exceed 55% of the student’s need.

1976

Need analysis systems agree on a “uniform methodology” (UM) for need assessment, resulting in the first national need analysis system. The Commission adopts UM for dependent students, but adopts a method similar to the BEOG need analysis for independent students. Need Grant eligibility is determined by need level, not a family contribution, and standard budgets by household size, based on average school-reported costs, are used. Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) for independent students are compared to standard budgets; resulting need levels must equal or exceed Commission need levels.

Need Grants: CC = $500, SS = $500, PVT = $1,000.
Grants awarded year-round.

1977

First initial awards made to upper-division students. Previously, only first- and second-year students received initial awards.

Need Grants: CC = $500, SS = $500, PVT = $1,000.
Grants awarded year-round

1978

Commission experiences a large increase in applications. The Tuition Offset Grant (TOG) is instituted to insulate needy resident undergraduates from increased tuition costs at public four-year institutions. TOG supplements Need Grants for OUS students from 1979 to 1983. Need Grant recipients at OUS schools have grants increased by an amount equal to the increase in tuition and fees ($100 awards to families in $17K - $20K).

Changes in federal SSIG statutes lead to ORS change that authorizes any nonprofit school in Oregon recognized by the US Department of Education to participate in Need Grant program. This leads to addition of 4 schools not accredited by the NW Association of Colleges and Schools, but eligible by this revision to SSIG.

Need Grants: CC = $500, SS = $500, PVT = $1,000.
Grants awarded year-round.

1979

Commission continues to see increases in applications. Stair-stepped awards are put in place for dependent students (unsure when the practice of stair-stepping began).

For students with incomes below $18,500, TOG of $40-$100 added to Need Grant. For families with incomes of $18,500-$21,500, students awarded $110 TOG only.

Maximum Need Grant awards: CC= $530, SS = $560-580, PVT = $1,060. (Avg. CC cost = $3900 Avg. OUS cost = $3950) Maximum EFC level for dependent students = $2,010

Grants awarded year-round.

1980

Stair-stepped awards are applied to all students. Application numbers continue to increase. Maximum EFC level is dropped to $1780 as part of a plan to keep expenditures within biennial appropriation level.

TOG income cut-off = $18,500, awarded only if eligible for Need Grant. No small TOG amounts.

Maximum Need Grant awards: CC = $528, SS = $630, PVT = $1,050

FC Level CC Awd SS Awd PVT Awd
0-1200 $528 $630 $1050
1201-1490 $360 $420 $690
1491-1780 $150 $150 $150

Grants awarded year-round.

1981

Need Grant applicant count stabilizes at 45,000. Percentage of independent students peaks at 60% vs. 36% in 1977-78.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $528, SS = $630, PVT = $1,050

First awarding cutoff date for Need Grants: mid-September.

1982

Commission continues to see high percentage of independent students.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $630, SS = $708, PVT = $1,230
Awarding cutoff: early August.

1983

TOG awards are discontinued. Percentage of independent students drops. Eligibility level for dependent students stabilized at EFC of $2,200.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $654, SS = $735, PVT = $1,278.
Awarding cutoff: late April.

1984

Eligibility level for Need Grants is frozen at EFC of $2,200.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $654, SS = $735, PVT = $1,344.
Initial awarding cutoff: early Fall. Awarding continued from early winter term through year-end.

1985

Commission discontinues coordination of Need Grant awards with Pell Grant eligibility.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $654, SS = $765, PVT = $1,398.
Awarding cutoff: August 1.

1986

Washington schools added to Need Grant program as part of proposed reciprocity program, with $300,000 exported. Program is discontinued after one year because Washington legislature declined to participate in program.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $672, SS = $786, PVT = $1,500
Awarding cutoff: mid-June.

1987

As cost increases outpace funding increases, the Need Grant erodes to 11% of costs in public colleges. Awards to students at some private nonprofit 4-year colleges are even less; the $1,500 award limit forces truncation of awards at approximately 8% of need at the colleges with the highest tuition. The Commission proposes that the limit on award size be raised to $2,500. The Legislature agrees, and the statute is amended accordingly.

Maximum EFC level for dependents = $2200.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $696, SS = $810, PVT = $844-1610
Awarding cutoff: October.

1988

Commission moves from receiving paper copies of applications to tape-only processing. Congress adopts new methodology for need analysis called Congressional Methodology (CM). Commission adopts CM for determining grant eligibility of dependent students, but moves to using only income and household size (no assets) for independent students-similar to the CM treatment of single students. This action is taken due to sizeable numbers of ineligible, independent Need Grant applicants with little or no expected family contribution under CM, who would qualify for grants.

Maximum EFC level for dependents = $2200.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $720, SS = $834, PVT = $870-1660
Grants awarded year-round.

1989

Operations are similar to previous year. Treatment of dependent students’ earnings is adjusted, rather than continuing to use regular CM analysis. The alternative treatment provides that the lower the parent’s adjusted available income (income after allowances subtracted) is, the lower the percentage of student earnings are used in determining total expected contribution. This methodology parallels treatment of Social Security education benefits and allows a student from a lower-income family with higher student earnings to remain in eligible for a grant.

Maximum EFC level for dependents = $2200.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $741, SS = $861, PVT = $870-1710
Awarding cutoff: October 6.

1990

Commission continues to use modified CM for dependents and household size and income for independents. Stair-stepped awards continued.

Maximum EFC level for dependents = $2600.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $798, SS = $930, PVT = $940-1848.
Awarding cutoff: September 14.

1991

For the first time, Commission begins receiving federal data from the Central Processing System (CPS), not from the College Scholarship Service (CSS).

Need Grant maximum awards: frozen at 1990-91 levels.
Awarding cutoff: July 12.

1992

Commission makes no major changes to operations. Awards are increased by 4%. Funds are over-awarded. As a result, all awards at all schools reduced $10.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $828, SS = $966, PVT = $978-1920.
Awarding cutoff: June 10

1993

Faced with a Governor’s mandate for a base budget with reduced General Fund expenditures, the Commission’s budget request directs all available General Fund dollars to maintaining the Need Grant at highest possible level—at the expense of all funding for Cash Award and PESIC. The potential effect on private nonprofit 4-year colleges is harsh because PESIC funds go entirely to private nonprofit 4-year colleges, and a disproportionate (relative to total enrollment) number of Cash Awardees choose these colleges. The $2,500 limit on an individual Need Grants is removed from the program statutes.

The Legislature directs Commission to distribute Need Grant funds to segments in the same proportion that Need Grant, Cash Award, and PESIC funds were distributed in the prior biennium. This results in significant increases in awards at private colleges, and $72 reductions to community college awards just prior to the start of the academic year.

Congress mandates a new methodology to determine students' financial need called Federal Methodology (FM). Given the more liberal treatment of dependent student earnings under FM, the Commission adopts the use of household size and income to determine Need Grant eligibility for all students. State of Washington takes the same action for its WA Need Grant program. Eligibility limits are established as a percentage of median family income and vary by students’ dependency status (75% for dependents and 50% for independents) to maintain historical distribution of awards among segments and to insure that the award population continues to mirror the applicant pool. Exception: eligibility limits for single independents are set at 30% of median family income, given the large number of students in this category that could qualify at 50%.

Use of professional judgments, a long-standing policy in the program, is discontinued, except those involving a change to dependency status, due to the sole reliance on the FAFSA and federal data. Commission discontinues the Special Condition form. Commission establishes a single award amount at each school, given that more that more than 90% of awards go to those with maximum eligibility.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $756, SS = $966, PVT = $1602-3150.
Awarding cutoff (based on dependency status in order to mirror the applicant pool): April 16 for dependents; April 20 for independents.

1994

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $756, SS = $990. PVT = $1632-3180.
Awarding cutoff: May 2 for dependents; April 25 for independents.

1995

Commission recommends to the Legislature that individual Need Grants be equal to approximately 12% of costs for students at all institutions—except for the most expensive independent colleges. The Joint Ways and Means Committee ultimately adopts an 11% of cost model, adds $3 million to the Need Grant budget, and, through a budget note, directs that the additional funds be distributed to students in independent colleges as State Grant Supplement Awards (SGSA)—in addition to Need Grants determined through the Commission’s recommended methodology.

In May 1995, voters approve establishment of the Educational Endowment Fund. As a result,15% of net lottery proceeds begin flowing to the fund in July 1997, with 25% of fund earnings dedicated to the Need Grant program and 75% to K12.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is born. Commission's first website goes live.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $840, SS = $1020. PVT = $1470.
SGSA award range: $648–1390, set at 90% of prior-year award when combined with Need Grant.
Awarding cutoff: May 13 for all students.

1996

SGSA awards increased substantially in second year of the biennium, and number of grant recipients at private nonprofit 4-year colleges decreases more than projected. In order to expend funds for the sector, award amounts are increased by roughly 23%.

Commission begins delivering award data to schools via the web. Governor Kitzhaber convenes a Task Force on College Access. Among its 19 recommendations is a recommendation to fully fund the Need Grant program. Maximum awards increased by 3%.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $858, OUS = $1056, PVT = $1518.
SGSA award range: $798-1710
Awarding cutoff: February 15, 1997

1997

Oregon Legislature continues $3 million for SGSA and appropriates an additional $1 million for public institutions only. Need Grant maximum awards continue at 11% of cost. Changes result in two cutoff dates. House Bill 2778 authorizes disbursement of funds to concurrently enrolled students. “FAFSA on the Web” goes live. First electronic private award application goes live.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $906, OUS = $1104, PVT = $1584.
SGSA award range: $798-1710
Awarding cutoffs: July 28 for private nonprofits; September 2 for all public institutions.

1998

Congress renames the Federal SSIG to Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program (LEAP) and creates a companion program, Special Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program (SLEAP). SLEAP is operational when federal funding exceeds $30 million. It requires a $2 for $1 match.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $936, OUS = $1140, PVT = $1638.
SGSA award range: $756-1624
Awarding cutoffs: July 28 for private nonprofits; August 31 for all public institutions.

1999

House Bill 2993 renames the Need Grant the Oregon Opportunity Grant, effective in 2001. The bill also establishes an advisory group to advise the Commission annually on operations and a merit-based program, the Oregon Achievement Grant, to become operational in 2001-02 if the 2001 Legislature appropriates funding. HB 2993 also creates a 22-member Financial Aid Commission to develop recommendations for the next Legislature on the relative benefits of investing in students and institutions, the balance between need-based and merit aid, and make proposals for providing incentives to community college students to complete bachelor’s degrees.

Education Endowment Funds are first used: $5,046,000 is spent, equaling roughly 4600 awards.

For SGSA awards, the Commission adopts a policy to adjust award sizes over 3 years so that for all schools, the combination of the Opportunity Grant and the SGSA would equal a common percentage of tuition and fees. In response to the disparity of awarded students at community colleges compared to other schools, the Legislature directs the Commission through a budget note to attempt to award an equal percentage of eligible students in each segment. This results in separate cutoff dates for each segment.

Schools begin reporting disbursement data online. After an extensive survey of all schools, the Commission votes to maintain existing professional judgment policy, which authorizes the use of professional judgment transactions only for changes in dependency status.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC - $966. OUS - $1170. PVT - $1680.
SGSA award range: $537-1882.
Awarding cutoffs: August 31 for private nonprofits; October 1 for OUS; December 8 for CCs

2000

Report of Special Commission on Financial Aid: Five Principles, Four Recommendations

Five Principles
  1. Top priority for student aid should be to reduce the financial burden for lower-income students.
  2. Oregon’s commitment should be broad and sufficient to provide lower-cost tuition at public universities, provide need-based student assistance for students attending eligible institutions, and provide merit-based scholarships for students attending eligible institutions.
  3. Public policies and programs should aim to increase the participation of students of color and lower-income students underrepresented in postsecondary institutions.
  4. Public expenditures for any non-need-based scholarship programs should be made in addition to, and not result in the redistribution of, existing resources.
  5. Financial assistance to students should not be detrimental to the existing support of public postsecondary institutions in Oregon.

In addition, the Special Commission made four specific recommendations to strengthen the Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon’s principal need-based financial aid program:

Four Recommendations

  1. Year-round availability – ensure need-based grants are available to eligible applicants who apply throughout the academic year.
  2. Increase awards – increase the size of individual awards to students from an amount equal to 11% of annual student costs to an amount equal to 15% of annual student costs.
  3. Equal treatment – equalize the eligibility threshold for students financially dependent on their parents and self-supporting adult students.
  4. Incent students – the State of Oregon should fund non-need-based scholarships to meet State priorities.

Emergency Board provides $225,000 in additional funding in response to budget note from 1999 that stated Emergency Board should consider providing additional dollars to unserved students.

Commission is forced to reduce awards due primarily to increased enrollments, particularly at community colleges, higher than normal pickup rates at all schools, and Commission’s attempt to meet budget note directing OSAC to serve equal percentage of eligible students in each segment.

Emergency Board grants Commission $918,000, primarily additional funds from Education Endowment Fund, to help offset $1.16 million in funding. Spring quarter/semester amounts are reduced $25 for CC students, $30 for OUS, and $45-67 for PVT.

2001

The Oregon Legislature increases Oregon Opportunity Grant funding by $5 million, increasing total OOG funding to $44,088,114: $37,268,199 in General Fund; $5,151,298 in Lottery Funds; $256,533 in Other Funds; $1,412,084 in Federal Funds.

Commission proposes merging Supplemental State Grant Award (SGSA) with Opportunity Grant. Financial aid community and Legislature agree. All awards for 2001 are set at 11% of cost, except for those private colleges where combined awards already exceed 11%. For these schools, agreement reached to freeze awards until costs rise to bring percentage to 11%. Commission adopts policy to set income eligibility levels at 3-year average, avoiding peaks or reductions in median family income for one year. Total resident undergraduate applications increase 16%.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1044, OUS = $1254, PVT = $1930-4380.
Awarding cutoffs: April 18 for OUS, April 4 for PVT, August 13 for CC.

2002

In the face of rising enrollments in public sector, significant college cost increases, explosive growth in resident undergraduates aid applications, and decreased revenue from Education Endowment Fund, the Commission (1) freezes all award amounts and (2) freezes income cutoffs, with exception of single independent students, which increase from 27% to 30% of median family income to 30%. Resident undergraduate applications increase 9%.

With Oregon’s economy in serious decline, the Legislature holds 5 special sessions and sends two ballot measures (BMs) to voters. Passage of Ballot Measure in September 2002 and House Bill 2536 in February 2003 results in draining Education Endowment (now Education Stability Fund) all funds by May 2003. Coupled with lower interest earnings, final Lottery Fund interest earnings to OOG are reduced to $2.1 million, a 60% drop from legislatively approved budget—equal to loss of 2725 awards over biennium. General Fund is reduced by $3 million. Reductions results in $600,000 in federal SLEAP funds returning to US Department of Education because maintenance of effort could not be met. Reductions occur after awards have been made, so Commission must reduce awards amounts for winter and spring:

Need Grant maximum award reductions by segment: CC = $95/term, OUS = $114/ term, PVT = range of $263-598/term
Awarding cutoffs: March 15 for PVT, March 25 for OUS, August 20 for CC.

2003

Governor’s Recommended Budget proposes $37.3 million for 2003-05, compared to the Legislatively Approved Budget of $44.1 million for 2001-03. Given reduced GRB, significant increases in college costs, and continued growth in eligible applicants, OOG Advisory Committee makes five recommendations to Commission:

  1. No cutoff date should occur before March 1.
  2. For 4-year schools, maximum cutoff dates need not exceed April 1.
  3. Reduce dependent income thresholds to levels that insure the minimum March 1 cutoff (drop from 75% to 55%)
  4. Reduce award amounts for all schools to 10% of cost
  5. Treat Oregon Health and Science University (now Oregon Health Sciences University) separately from OUS institutions for purposes of determining award amount.

Commission adopts recommendations 2, 3, and 5, with the understanding that they will allow the Commission to achieve the first recommendation, a March 1 cutoff for all. Commission votes to keep awards at 11% of cost. Impact on private colleges is that awards increase at 7 schools and decrease at 9 schools.

In February 2003, as a final step to bring State expenditures in line with 2001-03 revenue, Legislature votes to withdraw all remaining funds from Education Stability Fund, effective April 2003. The impact on 2003-05 OOG funding is loss of $3.7, million—$2.5 million from interest earnings and $1.2 million from loss of all federal matching funding for 2003-05 because State cannot meet federal maintenance of effort requirements for either LEAP or SLEAP (Note: Since SLEAP maintenance of effort requirements dictate that expenditures cannot decrease from the previous year, which they did, Oregon will not qualify for any SLEAP the first year of the biennium, no matter what level of funding is available for 2003-05). Because of reduced funds, Commission must institute earliest cutoff dates ever for 4-year schools: February 17 for private schools, March 1 for OUS institutions.

Following establishment of the February 17 cutoff date, private college segment approaches Commission and asks that, given (1) the significant impact on its student population, (2) the fact that cutoff date precedes the published March 1 date on the FAFSA, and (3) wide consensus that no cutoff date should be earlier than March 1, the cutoff date for private colleges should be extended to March 1. Commission concurs, with the understanding that any financial gain made by the segment in comparison to other segments would be offset in the second year of the biennium.

The final budget adopted by Legislature provides nearly $12 million in additional funding for OOG over Governor’s Balanced Budget. As a result, cutoff dates for all segments are extended and no offsets were required for the private college segment.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1164, OUS = $1401, PVT = $2314-3978.
Awarding cutoffs (final): March 13 for PVT, April 21 for OUS, August 12 for CC.

2004

Senate Bill 437, passed by the Legislative Assembly during the 2003 session requires OSAC to study and report the Legislature on the impact of a change to the OOG program that would restrict award amounts for students at 4-year private independent colleges to no more than the amount awarded to students attending OUS institutions. OSAC holds conducts seven hearings around the state in April and May 2004. The Commission gathers public input on four issues – full funding for the OOG program, OOG awards for part-time students, OOG awards for students in short-term training programs, and two-tier flat grant awards. The Commission’s final report and recommendations are submitted to the Legislative Assembly on January 28, 2005.

The Legislatively Approved Budget for 2003-05 is increased by $12 million above Governor’s Balanced Budget, but a referendum in February 2004 to repeal income tax surcharge and dramatic increases in college costs call for conservative approach. Applicant counts slowed to 3% from 2002-03 to 2003-04 and similar growth is projected for 2004-05.

College costs increase significantly at public institutions – 21% increase at CCs and 8% at OUS. Projections indicate that 71% of eligible students will receive awards. Advisory Committee recommends continuing to serve equal percentages of students in each sector, maintaining awards at 11% of cost, continuing to use median family income and household size formula to determine eligibility, and adjusting cutoff to address loss of funding, even if this results in cutoffs before the committee’s preferred cutoff minimum of March 1. Ultimate cutoffs were extended beyond March 1.

OSAC implements a new online OOG disbursement reporting process that allows schools to transmit load a password-protected file electronically. An interim alternative process allows schools to mail CDs with password-protected files to OSAC. The new reporting process replaces an old file transfer process via OSAC’s AS400 system that is retired in June 2005.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1257, OUS = $1482, PVT = $1932-4204.
Awarding cutoffs (final): April 16 for PVT, April 12 for OUS, July 9 for CC.

2005

The Commission discusses implementing an asset test in response to the Governor’s Access and Affordability Working Group and recommendations from public hearings on Senate Bill 437. OSAC files an emergency temporary administrative rule that limits OOG eligibility to students who not only meet existing OOG income limits, based on household size, but also meet all eligibility requirements for Pell Grants. Schools are notified of rule’s immediate implementation on March 28, 2005. The Commission also implements a “Request for Reconsideration” process that restores lost OOG awards for certain students who were denied an OOG due solely to their Pell ineligibility but who have an EFC of $5000 or less and show remaining need after known grants, scholarships, and other benefits are considers.

The Legislative Assembly increases OOG funding to $78.1 million for the 2005-07 biennium. OSAC is instructed to use funds to make awards to all eligible full-time students at public 2- and 4-year institutions in 2005-06 and approximately 70% of eligible full-time students at private nonprofit 4-year institutions. For 2006-07, all eligible full-time students in all three segments are to be awarded as are students enrolled at least half time (i.e., 6 to 11 credits per term).

In Fall 2005, OSAC implements a new online password-protected disbursement reporting process.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1323, OUS = $1587, PVT = $2052-4432.
Awarding cutoffs (final): April 15 for PVT, none for OUS or CC.

2006

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1398, OUS = $1674, PVT = $2196-4684.
Awarding cutoffs: none.

2007

The 2007 Legislative Assembly passes Senate Bill 334 and approves a significant increase in funds for the Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) program for the second year of the biennium. Appropriation allows up to $34 million to be disbursed 2007-08 and up to $72 million in 2008-09. For the first year of the biennium, awards are calculated based on existing policies based on dependency status, household size, and percentages of median family income. All eligible full-time and half-time students receive awards. Award amounts are based on 11% of standard cost of attendance, and students must be eligible for Federal Pell Grants to qualify for OOG awards.

SB 334 changes methodology for determining OOG eligibility and award amounts from current policy to the Shared Responsibility Model (SRM), with full implementation beginning in 2008-09. Initial implementation includes posting OOG Award Estimator on the OSAC website in November 2007. OSAC also organizes Steering Committee to advise Commission on SRM implementation, as required by SB 334.

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1470, OUS = $1752, PVT = $1932-4956.
Awarding cutoffs: none.

2008

For the 2008-09 academic year, OSAC implements Shared Responsibility Model (SRM) methodology, adopted by 2007 Legislative Assembly. SRM reflects shared responsibility among students, their families, federal government, and state to meet college costs. SRM formula also helps state leverage federal funds via tax credits and Pell grants.

Under SRM, OSAC extends OOG to nearly twice as many students and increase award maximums by nearly 50% over 2007-08 amounts. Award Estimator on OSAC website allows students to calculate eligibility for OOG, with link to calculators for Federal Pell Grants. OSAC projects disbursements of $68 million to more than 38,000 students for 2008-09. SRM marketing campaign increases public awareness of OOG via billboards and public service announcements on radio and television. In January 2008, OSAC begins emailing notices to students who appear to be OOG-eligible, based on recent FAFSA data.

SRM-based award amounts are based on “recognized budget” reduced by combination of student share, family share, and federal share. “Recognized budget” equals average cost of attendance at Oregon community college or OUS institution. Most awards for students at private nonprofit 4-year institutions equal awards OUS institutions. SB 334 provides grandfathered awards from 2007-08 through 2010-11 for students at 4-year private nonprofits who continue to be enrolled at the same institution and to meet old OOG eligibility requirements.

For 2008-09, “recognized budget” for CC students reduced nontuition costs by $600, compared to students at 4-year institutions. Remaining need is also reduced by 19% (prorata reduction) for all to control costs. Half-time awards are calculated by dividing full-time amount by 50% and then applying 19% prorata reduction, resulting in half-time awards at less than 50% of full-time awards for all but full-need students. Because FAFSA data are used to calculate students’ award amounts, as FAFSA data changes, awards also change, increasing the administrative burden for financial aid offices and OSAC staff.

Average Cost of Attendance (public 2-yr/4-yr based on 15 credit-hours/term)
(minus) Student share (@ 15 hrs/wk for 48 wks)
(minus) Family share (EFC)
(minus) Federal share (Pell Grant/tax credit)
= Remaining need
(minus) Prorata reduction (% of EFC)
= Opportunity Grant award (up to award caps)

SRM components:

  • Recognized budget = $13,204 CC, $16,483 OUS & PRIV
    • Tuition & Fees: $3,176 CC, $5,856 OUS & PRIV
    • Nontuition: $10,027 CC, $10,627 OUS & PRIV
  • Student Share = $5,200 CC, $8,200 OUS & PRIV
  • Family Share = Expected Family Contribution
  • Federal Share = Pell Grants up to $4,731 + assumed tax credits up to $1,650
  • Prorata Reduction = 19% of EFC
  • Minimum Award = $400
  • Income Limit = $70,000

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $2600, Public & Private 4-Yr = $3200 Awarding cutoffs: November 30.

2009

Great Recession of 2008 causes huge numbers of recently unemployed, high-need students to return to postsecondary education, resulting in an explosion in demand for financial aid. US Department of Education notifies schools of temporary change that allows unemployment benefits to be excluded from need analysis calculation. Student financial aid becomes part of social safety net, overwhelming financial aid offices, especially at community colleges.

Increases in maximum Pell Grants and tax credits do little to mitigate OOG program costs due to surge in demand. OSAC tries to control costs by suspending professional judgment requests, moving award cutoffs to August 15, and limiting award eligibility to students who enroll and receive OOG disbursements for Fall term. Cost controls are ineffective in preventing overspending in first year of biennium; ultimately more than 43,000 students receive OOG funds totaling more than $76.5 million, leaving less than $20 million available for the second year of the 2009-11 biennium.

SRM components:

  • "Recognized budget" = $13,630 CC, $16,430 OUS & PRIV
    • Tuition & Fees: $3,330 CC, $6,130 OUS & PRIV
    • Nontuition: $10,300 all segments
  • Student Share = $5,400 CC, $8,400 OUS & PRIV
  • Family Share = Expected Family Contribution
  • Federal Share = Pell Grants up to $5,350 + assumed tax credits up to $2,500
  • Prorata Reduction = 19% of EFC
  • Minimum Award = $400
  • Income Limit = $70,000

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $2600, Public & Private 4-yr = $2675*
Awarding cutoffs: August 15.

2010

In the face of declining revenues midway through the biennium, Governor imposes across-the-board reductions of General Fund and Lottery portions of agency budgets in May 2010 and September 2010 – 9% of total OOG funds for biennium. Combination of overspending in the first year of biennium and budget reductions mid-way through biennium reduces OOG funds from $24 million to less than $20 million for second year. With reduced funding for 2010-11, OSAC also cannot meet maintenance of effort and matching funds requirements for LEAP and SLEAP funds, losing $917,000. Legislature allocates additional $4.7 million in February 2010 special session, and OUS indirectly funds its “share” of OOG budget reductions, adding approximately $4.2 million.

OSAC sets cutoffs at dates when 100% of allocated funds for each segment are awarded, assuming 100% of awardees use funds. Resulting cutoffs are in late January for public institutions and late February for 4-year private nonprofit institutions. Formula for calculating assumed tax credits includes refundable amounts of up to $1000 for most low-income and $0 EFC students, but has limited effect on number of students receiving maximum awards. Award amounts reduced to $1800 for CC and $1950 for 4-year institutions, with state funds offset by increases in Pell Grants and tax credits. Nearly 13,000 OOG-eligible students received total of $18.8 million in OOG funds.

SRM components:

  • "Recognized budget" = $13,884 CC, $17,016 OUS & PRIV
    • Tuition & Fees: $3,584 CC, $6,716 OUS & PRIV
    • Nontuition: $10,300 all segments
  • Student Share = $5,400 CC, $8,400 OUS & PRIV
  • Family Share = Expected Family Contribution
  • Federal Share = Pell Grants up to $5,550 + assumed tax credits up to $2,500, with up to $1000 refundable even if income is below tax-filing levels
  • Prorata Reduction = 19% of EFC
  • Minimum Award = $400
  • Income Limit = $70,000

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1800, Public & Private 4-yr = $1950.
Awarding cutoffs: February 24 for PRIV, January 29 for OUS, January 21 for CC.

2011

Total 2011-13 budget for Opportunity Grant is 4.8% above 2009-11– a rare bright spot in a gloomy budget cycle. OSAC hopes to disburse 52,000 awards in biennium, close to the number in 2009-11, but with lower maximum awards. Due to March 2011 revenue forecast, Legislature holds back 3.5% of agencies’ General Fund and Lottery allocations as a precaution, with funds to be released in Year 2 if March 2012 forecasts indicate better economic conditions. For OOG, $3.6 million is held back.

Congress de-funded LEAP in 2011, so OOG has no federal funds. Oregon legislature expends most of Education Stability Fund principal. With lost principal and low interest rates, distributions of interest earnings are much lower than first projected. OSAC expects to disburse $46 million in 2011-12, leaving $53 million for 2012-13. Agencies told to project additional reductions in 3.5% steps.

Two bills passed by 2011 Legislature affect OOG and OSAC – Senate Bill 242 and Senate Bill 909. SB 242 creates 15-member Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), appointed by the Governor, to oversee all higher education agencies – OSAC, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development (CCWD), and Oregon University System (OUS). HECC will develop state goals and accountability measures for OSAC and state postsecondary education systems and a strategic plan to achieve state goals. It will also develop finance model for higher education and recommend consolidated budget for higher education operations.

SB 909 establishes 12-member Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB), appointed and chaired by Governor. OEIB charged with overseeing unified public education system from early childhood services to postsecondary education and providing integrated, statewide, student-based data system to monitor expenditures and outcomes. OEIB will submit report on proposed changes to public education to legislative education committees by December 15, 2011, and file proposals for legislative measures. Members of OEIB named in September 2011, effect on OSAC unknown.

Commission approves no changes to OOG maximum awards for 2011-12 academic year. OOG awards made until funds exhausted; cutoff dates close to those of 2010-11, but nearly twice as many students file FAFSAs by February 1 vs. previous year. Cost-control policies remain – no professional judgments accepted; new award processing suspended after May 16; no requests to lock awards thereafter if increases award amount; eligibility limited to students enrolled fall term; and award amounts in subsequent terms limited to fall-term enrollment status. OOG Advisory Group resurrected; SB 242 disbands Shared Responsibility Steering Committee on date of enactment.

SRM components:

  • "Recognized budget" = $15,459 CC, $18,966 OUS & PRIV
    • Tuition & Fees: $3,710 CC, $7,217 OUS & PRIV
    • Nontuition: $11,749 all segments
  • Student Share = $5,400 CC, $8,400 OUS & PRIV
  • Family Share = Expected Family Contribution
  • Federal Share = Pell Grants up to $5,550 + assumed tax credits up to $2,500
  • Prorata Reduction = $0
  • Minimum Award = $400
  • Income Limit = $70,000

Need Grant maximum awards: CC = $1800, OUS & PRIV = $1950.
Awarding cutoffs: February 1 for PRIV, January 23 for OUS, January 26 for CC.

2012

With dire budget forecasts, budget reductions halfway through the biennium likely. Advisory Group recommends flat award of $1950 for all students for 2012-13, with eligibility limited to only those students whose calculated need is equal to or above $1950. In addition, the Commission eliminates prorata reduction and $1000 assumed tax refund portion of tax credits for students with assumed credit eligibility of less than $1000. Provisions of House Bill 3471 that require OSAC to prioritize OOG awards for current and former foster youth take effect January 2012 for the 2012-13 award year. OSAC resumes notifying FAFSA filers of potential eligibility for OOG after OSAC posts first award lists on February 15. OSAC also reactivates OOG Estimator prior to start of 2012-13.

SRM components:

  • "Recognized budget" = $16,539 CC, $19,976 OUS & PRIV
    • Tuition & Fees: $4,239 CC, $7,676 OUS & PRIV
    • Nontuition: $12,300 all segments
  • Student Share = $5,700 CC, $8,700 OUS & PRIV
  • Family Share = Expected Family Contribution
  • Federal Share = Pell Grants up to $5,550 + assumed tax credits up to $2,500
  • Prorata Reduction =$0
  • Minimum Award = same as maximum award
  • Income Limit = $70,000

Need Grant maximum awards: $1950 flat award, regardless of school type.
Awarding cutoffs: February 1 is the published deadline for schools.

2013

Budgets stabilize at the start of the 2013-15 biennium. Advisory Group recommends, and the Commission approves, a flat award of $2000 for all students for 2013-14, with eligibility limited to students whose calculated need is equal to or above $2000. In May 2013, the Legislative Assembly approves a 2013-15 biennial budget of $113,880,958. Approximately $55 million is available for 2013-14 and the remainder for 2014-15

SRM components:

  • "Recognized budget" = $17,026 CC, $20,710 OUS & PRIV
    • Tuition & Fees: $4,408 CC, $8,092 OUS & PRIV
    • Nontuition: $12,608 all segments
  • Student Share = $5,800 CC, $8,800 OUS & PRIV
  • Family Share = Expected Family Contribution
  • Federal Share = Pell Grants up to $5,645 + assumed tax credits up to $2,500
  • Prorata Reduction =$0
  • Minimum Award = same as maximum award
  • Income Limit = $70,000

Need Grant maximum awards: $2,000 flat award, regardless of school type.
Awarding cutoffs: February 1 is the published deadline for schools.

2014

The Commission approves no change to the flat award of $2000 for all students for 2014-15, with eligibility limited to students whose calculated need is equal to or above $2000. Approximately $58 million is available for 2014-15

SRM components:

  • "Recognized budget" = $17,374 CC, $21.192 OUS & PRIV
    • Tuition & Fees: $4,449 CC, $8,267 OUS & PRIV
    • Nontuition: $12,925 all segments
  • Student Share = $5,800 CC, $8,800 OUS & PRIV
  • Family Share = Expected Family Contribution
  • Federal Share = Pell Grants up to $5,730 + assumed tax credits up to $2,500
  • Prorata Reduction =$0
  • Minimum Award = same as maximum award
  • Income Limit = $70,000

Need Grant maximum awards: $2,000 flat award, regardless of school type.
Awarding cutoffs: February 1 is the published deadline for schools.