Pay for College


Pay for College - COCC grads

You can afford college. Explore ways you can pay for education after high school.



The cost of college can include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. Most colleges also require students to have health insurance.

Residents pay a lower price, known as in-state tuition, at public universities and community colleges. Oregonians also have access to reduced tuition at select public 2-year and 4-year colleges in 14 western states through the Western Undergradute Exchange (WUE).

The cost of college can seem overwhelming; however, most students don't pay full price. Use a net price calculator to get an estimate of what you will actually pay after including some types of financial aid. Consider all of the costs when choosing a college. Compare financial aid awards carefully, and create a monthly budget based on your projected needs.



Most students pay for college in a variety of ways. Undocumented and DACA-mented students, adult learners and veterans have special considerations when applying for financial aid and paying for college.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is money to help pay for college. Students receive financial aid based on need (what the family can contribute to college costs) and merit (achievement in academics, sports, or other areas). There are four main types of financial aid: grants, scholarships, work-study and loans.


Money from the state government, federal government or the college that does not need to be paid back; need-based.

  • Oregon Opportunity Grant: Grants for students planning to go to college in Oregon at least half-time. Given to those with the greatest need first. Apply by completing the FAFSA or ORSAA. More information and FAQ.
  • Oregon Promise: A state grant that helps to cover most tuition costs at any Oregon community college for recent high school and GED® graduates. Apply by completing the Oregon Promise application and the FAFSA or ORSAA. More information and FAQ.


Money for college that must be paid back; need-based.

Borrow responsibly; accept only what you need. In general:

  • Federal > Private: Loans made by the federal government are better than loans from banks or other private sources since they usually have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options.
  • Subsidized > Unsubsidized: Subsidized loans are better because the federal government pays the interest on your loans while you are in school.
  • Student > Parent: Parent loans should be a last resort.


Part-time jobs, often on campus, to help pay for college costs; need-based.

  • Students are responsible for finding a job that accepts work-study students once they arrive on campus.
  • Students earn at least the federal minimum wage.


Given by colleges or organizations for good grades, community service, athletic ability, or other unique personal qualities; merit- and/or need-based.

  • OSAC Scholarships: One application for over 600 scholarships only for Oregon students.

Savings & Other Resources

College Savings Accounts

It’s never too early or late to start saving money for college. There are many types of college savings accounts including 529 plans that are not taxed. Discuss options with a bank or financial institution.

Other Resources

Students may also use other resources to pay for college including:

  • Earnings from part-time or full-time jobs
  • Other savings
  • Money from parents and family
  • Employer tuition reimbursement

Some students may consider an apprenticeship, which helps pay for school and on-the-job training for specific trades, or the Military to help pay for college.



In order to receive the most financial aid, students should complete forms and applications as soon as possible after they open.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid
U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and eligible noncitizens complete this form to receive federal, state and institutional aid including grants, scholarships, loans and work-study. More information and FAQ.

Opens: October 1
Due: June 30



Oregon Student Aid Application
Eligible undocumented and DACA-mented students in Oregon complete this form to receive state aid including the Oregon Opportunity Grant and the Oregon Promise grant. More information and FAQ.

Opens: October 1
Due: June 30


Additional Forms

Some colleges also require students to complete the CSS Profile or other additional forms in order to receive financial aid. In Oregon, Lewis & Clark College and Reed College require the CSS Profile; check with out-of-state colleges to see if they require it.

CSS Profile opens: October 1
CSS Profile due: varies


OSAC Scholarship Application

1 application for 500+ scholarships for Oregon students.

Opens: November 1
Due: February 15 (early bird); March 1 (final)


Oregon Promise Application

For eligible students planning to attend an Oregon community college. More information and FAQ.

Opens: September
Due: June 1 for most students


Other Scholarships

Apply to as many scholarships as possible including regional, national and college-specific scholarships.

Opens: varies
Due: varies



Life happens. If you or a member of your family loses a job or income or if you have unexpected medical expenses, childcare costs, or other financial issues, contact your school's financial aid office.

  • Emergency Grants: Some colleges may have emergency grants available for current college students to help pay for technology like laptops, course material, food, housing, health care and childcare.
  • Financial Aid Appeals: You can ask for a review of your financial aid offer. Your college's financial aid office might have a template to follow or you can use this free tool. Email it to the financial aid office to start the conversation.
  • Enrollment Deposit Waiver: Most colleges require you to pay a deposit to hold your spot. If you have decided to attend a college or university but are unable to afford the enrollment deposit, you can ask for the fee to be waived. Work with your counselor to fill out and submit the NACAC Enrollment Deposit Fee Waiver. Note: colleges are not required to grant the request.