“Oregon Promise” takes from the poor, sends the rich to community colleges

The technical term is “lose-lose”. Saul Hubbard has an excellent story on the results of Oregon State Senator Mark Haas’s experiment – free community college tuition regardless of how rich you are – in the RG here:

-More grant recipients than the state expected come from well-off and middle class families. That reduces the amount of federal aid they receive, driving up the share of their tuition the state must pony up. Over 30 percent of “Promise” funds are going to students coming, for example, from a household with two kids and a gross income of $110,000 a year or more.

– African-American, Latino, and Native American students are all statistically underrepresented in grant receipt, compared to the respective shares of Oregon’s high school population they make up.

The only ethnic group that’s overrepresented, slightly, in this year’s crop? Non-Hispanic whites.

Oregon’s seven public universities, which saw a slight dip in in-state enrollment this year, are pointing to some of those problems and calling for the state to scrap the “Oregon Promise” next year.

The universities argue that the money would be better sent directly to them and to community colleges to hold down tuition increases, or redirected to the existing Oregon Opportunity Grant program, which provides financial aid exclusively to low-income students at universities and community colleges.

But Sen. Mark Hass, the Tualatin Democrat who led the charge to create the “Oregon Promise” in 2015, is bullish on its future. …

Next year’s story will be on how few of those students are still in school, given community colleges low retention and transfer rates.

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9 Responses to “Oregon Promise” takes from the poor, sends the rich to community colleges

  1. Daffy Duck says:

    Studies at a number of places, including Harvard and Oregon documented this result for non-need based aid more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, it is symptomatic of the shallow thought, amateurism, and rank stupidity across the political spectrum that the results of the Oregon Promise program come as any surprise.
    For the minuscule few interested in any of the actual studies, here are public links to two, including a third one suggesting that such programs have no significant effect on college completion at all, rich or poor.
    1) A Harvard study:
    2) An Oregon study:
    3) And on college completion:

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  2. Glass House says:

    The UO may want to bash community colleges that it is competing with for students, but should be careful of throwing rocks in its glass house. For years the UO has used an increasing share of its financial aid to attract high-paying wealthy students rather than helping the poor. This “enrollment management” has filled coffers but left the UO a leader in income inequality. The UO now has 56 percent of its students from the wealthiest 20 percent, but less than five percent from the poorest 20 percent. The disparity has left the UO ranking in the top 10 percent of all colleges in median income. The New York Times posted the data, showing a marked downturn in economic diversity at the UO, at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobility/university-of-oregon

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    • Daffy Duck says:

      For poor students, The UO charges the lowest net tuition of any public college in the state

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    • Daffy Duck says:

      To glass house. Not sure whether your comment is directed at UO matters headline or my post. if the latter, there is nothing in my post to bash community colleges, which are an essential part of our state system of higher ed. as for UO. Net tuition for poor oregon students at UO is the lowest in the state among four year colleges. My post was intended only as a documentation of the relative effects of non-need based aid for lower versus higher income students. however, if anything in my post appears to bash community colleges, that was certainly not my intention.

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  3. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    How about UO start awarding an Associate degree to students who complete a requisite 2 year program?

    That would buttress all students, and give marginal (in all the ways) students the opp to exit gracefully with something of tangible value. Instead of possibly just a mound of debt.

    It would help overcome the largely reasonable criticism that too many students are just wasting money on college.

    Of course, it might be very unpopular with the CCs.

    I’m not suggesting that UO go into voc ed, only that it leverage better what it already does.

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    • Dog says:

      This issue

      Liberal Arts vs Vocational Education is generally a good topic. Of course, most all in higher ed think that Voc. Education is beneath them and no real University does this. As put in one of the references below:

      I had with a dean of students from a liberal-arts college, in which this person seemed (to me) to be arrogantly dismissive about the kind of career-oriented education provided at places like MMA, and extravagantly self-satisfied and sanguine about the kind of education that liberal-arts colleges provide

      I think most of the academics at the UO live in the past and would agree with the above quote.

      However, the world does evolve and the issue of obtaining a liberal arts degree but gaining a “mound of debt” and no real career trajectory is now quite real.

      So in recognition of that evolution, I offer some new thinking and insights about this old issue:




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      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        dog — I mentioned “voc ed” not “liberal arts, career education, professional education.”

        My proposal is certainly intended in the spirit of helping many of our students to make their way in life.

        I don’t think UO should start a welding or truck driving or dental tech program.

        Do you?

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        • dog says:

          Welding is pretty cool, actually

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          • Dog says:

            Indeed, according to payscale.com
            the median pay for welders is about 43.5K
            and the median pay for pipe welders is about 56K

            please place both of those points on the previous graph that UOmatters provided about family income vs college
            graduate product outcome salary

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