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MHCC gets enrollment bump from free tuition

Oregon Promise draws more students to colleges -

PMG FILE PHOTO - Mt. Hood Community College students graduate.Mt. Hood Community College will get a jump in enrollment as a result of a new state program that gives recent high school graduates a nearly free ride at community colleges statewide.

Some 1,291 students have indicated their interest in Mt. Hood on the Oregon Promise application and 927 have started the registration process to attend in the fall, said Bruce Battle, MHCC’s director of marketing.

When students apply for the new program, called Oregon Promise, they have to declare which community college they plan to attend.

To celebrate the new students MHCC is holding an “Oregon Promise Party” from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, July 28, on campus.

The school says families who have completed the Oregon Promise application will enjoy music, food, fun and giveaways. They can also get help finishing registration for MHCC if they need it.

Statewide, educators estimate community colleges might see a 30 percent jump in their freshman classes as a result of Oregon Promise, but Battle said MHCC won’t know for sure how big an increase until the fall.

“The Oregon Promise is helping students reach their educational goals. We’re thrilled that many taking advantage of the program have chosen Mt. Hood Community College as their college,” Battle said.

In order to qualify for Oregon Promise for fall 2016, a student must graduate from high school or get a GED in the spring/summer of 2016, have at least a 2.5 grade point average and have lived in Oregon for at least a year prior to enrolling in a community college. The applications for Oregon Promise closed March 1.

If a student is approved for Oregon Promise they must enroll in an Oregon community college within six months of graduating.

Oregon Promise doesn’t make community college completely free, the program requires a $50 copay per term.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed the Oregon Promise legislation (Senate Bill 81) creating the program in July 2015.

Oregon joins Tennessee and Minnesota in offering free community college to students.

At least 10 other states have considered legislation that would make community college free, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.