Oregon Provides Historic Investment in Financial Aid for Tribal Students


The Oregon Tribal Student Grant 2022-23 application is now open: visit oregonstudentaid.gov/oregon-tribal-student.aspx

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) recently announced that the application is now open for the Oregon Tribal Student Grant for 2022-23, a new state financial aid program supported by the Oregon Legislature’s 2022 historic investment in equitable college access and success for tribal students.

The Oregon Tribal Student Grant is expected to pay for most or all public college-related expenses—including tuition, housing, books, and other costs not covered by other grants—for eligible students who are enrolled members of Oregon’s nine federally recognized Tribes. It can be applied toward undergraduate or graduate study at Oregon public colleges and universities as well as eligible private non-profit institutions, where award amounts can go up to the public institution maximum level, in the upcoming 2022-23 school year.

The HECC Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) will administer the grant, and encourages tribal students to apply by the priority application deadline of August 1, 2022.

Governor Kate Brown proposed this program in the 2022 Legislative Session, in consultation with Oregon Tribal government leadership, and working closely with HECC, to address longstanding educational equity gaps by removing financial barriers to college for Oregon tribal students. With the Oregon Legislature’s approval of program funding for the 2022-23 academic year, the grant is now available to enrolled members of:

  • Burns Paiute Tribe
  • Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
  • Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
  • Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
  • Coquille Indian Tribe
  • Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
  • Klamath Tribes

Governor Brown said, “The launch of the Oregon Tribal Student Grant marks a historic moment for Oregon. For far too long, due to disparities caused by systemic barriers, too few tribal students have had access to postsecondary education. This grant program is a remarkable step forward that will serve as a model for the rest of the nation, help to right historic wrongs, and profoundly impact the future of Oregon’s tribal students and our dynamic tribal communities.”

Tribal partners, schools, universities, communities, and families are encouraged to learn more and help share news on the grant with potential applicants, by viewing and sharing website and informational documents available here.  

Students must submit the Oregon Tribal Student Grant application and either a 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA).  The grant will apply to the estimated average total cost of attendance which is calculated by each institution, including tuition and fees, living expenses, books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Grant amounts vary based on each student’s college choice and enrollment level, with private institution awards capped at the average Oregon public university cost of attendance.

The Oregon Tribal Student Grant is currently only funded for the 2022-23 academic school year, and renewal of the grant for following years is dependent upon reauthorization and permanent funding which will need to be considered by the Oregon Legislature in 2023. The HECC is currently developing its recommendations for the next budget cycle on sustaining this and other financial aid investments.

At its April 14 public commission meeting, the HECC voted unanimously to approve the initial administrative rules for the program after hearing testimony on the critical need to intentionally dismantle historic systemic barriers to college access and success for tribal learners. Among Native American/Alaska Native undergraduates at Oregon public institutions, 40 percent of those who apply for financial aid cannot afford college costs, even with the support of public grant aid, most institutional aid, expected family contributions, and student earnings.

A recent HECC report on education and training after high school for Oregonians who identify as Native American/Alaska Native illustrates the extensive barriers tribal students face in the Oregon education system at every level, including affordability challenges. These barriers contribute to a serious equity gap in college-going rates, with 48.5 percent Native American and Alaska Native high school students going to college, compared to 61.8 percent for all high school graduates (HECC Key Performance Metrics #1, #2).  

HECC Chair Terry Cross said, “I am pleased and excited to see the new Tribal Student Grant Program come to fruition. It has been the vision of the HECC for some time to support Oregon’s tribal students’ college and university education, as we actively apply the HECC Equity Lens. Now with the leadership of the Governor and the action of the Legislature, the HECC is implementing this exemplary program. We hope all who are eligible will apply!”

Juan Báez-Arévalo, director of HECC Office of Student Access and Completion, said, “By addressing the cost of attendance in a time of rising college costs, the Oregon Tribal Student Grant removes one of the most serious barriers to college success for a population that has been deeply underserved. We are honored to work in consultation with Oregon tribes to build equitable college opportunity and support the talents and promising futures of tribal students, their families, and communities.”

About Author

Endi Hartigan is the Communications Director for the State of Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). The HECC envisions a future in which all Oregonians—and especially those whom our systems have underserved and marginalized—benefit from the transformational power of high-quality postsecondary education and training.

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