Friday, September 26, 2014

Ballot measure would make college more affordable: Guest opinion

The Oregonian
September 25th, 2014

Measure 86 is a simple and responsible plan to make it easier for Oregon students to afford Oregon universities and community colleges, reduce student debt and support vocational and technical job training at the community college level.
National studies confirm what Oregon employers are telling us: Advanced education and technical job training are becoming more important than ever in our skills-based economy. People with a college education or equivalent job training earn far more over the course of their careers than people without. The gap is large and growing.
Yet when it comes to connecting young Oregonians with the education and skills they need, Oregon is moving in the wrong direction and leaving too many lower-income and middle-class students behind. We do so at the peril of our state's long-term economic competitiveness.
Consider the facts: The price paid by students and their families to attend Oregon institutions of higher education has increased over 50 percent during a recent eight year period. Student debt in Oregon increased 25 percent over a recent four-year period. For every five financially qualified applicants for Oregon Opportunity Grants, only a single one, on average, receives financial support. Funding fluctuates so much from year to year that a student may get aid one year but not the next, leading many to take on more debt or even drop out.

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