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Act now: Ways to make learning more affordable for Oregon State students

Oregon State University faculty, administrators and staff recently attended a new event called the Think Affordable Summit.

The event, held in Corvallis and online, included a panel discussion centered on how to make college more affordable in Oregon — hosted by Provost Edward Feser and featuring Ben Cannon, executive director of the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and state Rep. John Lively, District 7. The summit also included a series of lightning presentations from OSU leaders that highlighted different ways OSU is working to make college more affordable and accessible for students.

The following is a summary of key takeaways for how OSU faculty, administrators and advisors can continue to support this important work.

Increase student access to course materials

Textbook costs are a huge barrier to better learning outcomes. 61% of Oregon State students forgo the course materials for their classes because they can’t afford the textbook. Oregon State’s Open Educational Resources Unit and the OSU Libraries aim to change that. There are a variety of ways faculty can support this work:

Make students more aware of funding alternatives

Today, more than half of students leave college with debt, and student borrowers across the U.S. owe $1.75 trillion collectively. Oregon State has resources available to help students pay for college without amassing more debt.

  • Students can apply for scholarships every year through OSU ScholarDollars. This portal gives students information on both internal and external scholarships.
  • Students can apply for financial hardship grants to cover emergency and unexpected costs that could impact their ability to continue school.
  • Encourage students to ask their employer if they offer tuition benefits. A lot of organizations now do, even for employees who work part time.

Help promote creative learning pathways

Millions of people in the U.S. have completed some college but have no degree. To change this reality, presenters advocated for creative pathways to completing a degree and degree alternatives. It’s important to make prospective students more aware of these options.

  • Students can now apply for an applied humanities degree online, which centers affordability and aims to help students who have some college credit earn their degrees.
  • Students can gain skills quickly with online microcredentials. These are especially helpful for adult learners who want to pivot in their career, but cannot afford an additional degree.

Refer students to resources created to support life beyond OSU

Life outside of school has a huge impact on who graduates. Oregon State has a variety of resources designed to create more financial stability for students:

While it can be easy to feel powerless in the face of big challenges, the above takeaways offer concrete actions that everyone at OSU can take part in to make college more affordable. The work of supporting Oregon State students is ongoing, and we hope you’ll join us.

You can view session descriptions and presentation slides from the Think Affordable Summit on the event website.

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