CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University leaders have announced a new financial aid initiative that in its first school year, 2008-09, will enable a full 10 percent of the Oregonian students who attend OSU to do so free of charge.
The Bridge to Success Program will pool federal resources with funds from the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the Campaign for OSU and redirected institutional monies to cover all tuition and fee costs for 1,500 in-state students this fall. Additional funds will cover books and supplies for half of those students.
Awards will be based on financial need and students' ability to show satisfactory progress toward completion of degrees, including taking 15 credits each term.
It is the largest such program yet announced in Oregon, and the fact that it has been created at OSU is no accident, school leaders say.
"As Oregon's land grant university, it is our mission to ensure that the sons and daughters of this state have access to a premier college education, and the Bridge to Success Program will help us fulfill that promise for worthy students with significant financial need," said OSU President Ed Ray.
"We're pleased to be able to do this, especially at a time when the cost of earning a university education is increasingly difficult for many students to afford."
The program is expected to total $9.2 million in total expenditures its first year. Participating students must be eligible for both Pell Grant and Oregon Opportunity Grant awards to leverage the additional funding from both the university and the Campaign for OSU, the $625 million capital campaign announced last fall. The campaign has already raised more than $400 million toward its goal, including millions of dollars in scholarship and financial aid funding for students.
Another innovative aspect of the new program is its simplicity: Students don't need to apply. Any financial aid applicant who meets Pell Grant and Oregon Opportunity Grant eligibility and can show necessary progress toward degree will be automatically considered, alleviating the completion of yet another form.
In fact, students who have applied for financial aid for the 2008-09 school year are already being considered for awards under the program, which was only recently finalized, said Kate Peterson, assistant provost for enrollment management at OSU, who along with Financial Aid director Emilio Vejil, created Bridge to Success.
"OSU is making a major commitment with this program, and we're all looking forward to the significant number of students who will be helped," she said. "The Bridge to Success Program will serve as a model, we hope, for other students trying to confront the challenge of maintaining access for some of our most financially vulnerable students."
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