Oregon Opportunity Grant

Portland Community College student studying in the SE Center - courtesy Portland Community College Library, photographer Kristin Beadle

The Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) is Oregon's largest state-funded need-based grant program for students planning to go to college. Opportunity Grants are funded primarily by Oregon taxpayers. More than 34,000 students received OOG awards totaling almost $55 million in the 2013-14 academic year. In 2014-15, OSAC anticipates disbursing more than $58 million to approximately 35,000 students.

Three Steps to Apply for an Oregon Opportunity Grant

  1. Fill out the FAFSA

  2. Oregon students apply for the Oregon Opportunity Grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is also the application for most federal student aid programs. Students must complete a FAFSA each year to ensure access to both federal programs and the grants and scholarships that OSAC administers.

  3. Watch for emails from the US Department of Education and OSAC

  4. Students should watch for an email from the US Department of Education with information about the status of their FAFSA and their Student Aid Report (SAR). The email usually arrives about 3 days after filing the FAFSA. After 5 days, check the FAFSA website to confirm it was submitted correctly. In spring, OSAC sends out emails notifying students of their potential eligibility for an Opportunity Grant.

  5. Fix FAFSA errors right away!

  6. If the SAR shows errors or FAFSA information that needs to be corrected, students should resolve those errors right away. Funds are limited, so those who wait too long to resolve errors may not receive a grant. The most common errors are missing signatures and conflicts between a student's name and social security number

NOTE: Simply submitting a FAFSA by the priority deadline does not guarantee an applicant will receive an award. OSAC makes awards only to eligible applicants who apply on or before the published deadline and have problem-free FAFSAs (i.e., had no errors or had resolved all errors and other problems by early March). In addition, in years with limited available funds, students who are awarded but delay enrollment until later in the academic year may lose their grant eligibility. Awards for students who are enrolled half-time in fall term may be limited to half-time amounts for all subsequent terms during the academic year.

Preliminary Information for 2015-16:

For the 2015-17 biennium, the Governor has proposed a budget of $143.2 million for Oregon Opportunity Grants-an increase of 24.8% over 2013-15. The Legislative Assembly will consider the Governor's proposal and finalize OOG funding during the 2015 legislative session that runs to June 2015. Because the OOG award cycle begins several months before the Legislative Assembly acts on agency budgets, OSAC still will work with co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means and the Governor's Office to set a tentative funding level for the first year of the biennium. OSAC will make initial 2015-15 OOG awards after a tentative budget has been approved.

Applications: OSAC encourages applicants to submit their 2015 FAFSAs as soon after January 1st as possible to ensure priority consideration for a grant. OSAC will make awards for 2015-16 until funds are depleted, which has occurred around February 1 the last several years, Instead of waiting until after filing 2014 tax returns to submit a FAFSA, students (and parents) may use 2013 returns to estimate 2014 taxes. They must update their FAFSA information after filing taxes by using the Data Retrieval Tool to import data directly from the IRS or by manuallyentering data from their tax forms.

Award Notification: OSAC plans to make initial awards in spring 2015 and notify students by email of their potential grant eligibility. OSAC may alsomake additional awards later in the year if funds remain. To ensure receipt of email notifications from OSAC and from the US Department of Education, students should make sure they provide an active email address on their FAFSA and check for messages regularly.

2015-16 Award Amount: $2,100. A fixed award amount of $2,100 will be available for full-time, full-year attendance at any eligible Oregon-based postsecondary institution. Students' financial need must be at or above $2,100 to be considered for an award. OSAC releases a portion of the award to the student’s school account at the start of each academic term (quarter or semester) and prorates awards for students enrolled at least half time.

FAFSA Tip Sheets:

Check out the links below for tip sheets from The U.S. Department of Education Blog regarding FAFSA:

Information for 2014-15:

Application Deadline: February 1, 2014 (midnight Central Standard Time). All funds have been awarded for 2014-15.

Opportunity Grants are awarded first-come, first-served by application date until funds are depleted. OSAC made initial awards in March 2014 and notified students by email of their potential grant eligibility. Additional awards were made in May and September as more funds became available. To ensure receipt of future email notifications from OSAC, students should make sure they include an active email address on their FAFSA.

2014-15 Award Amount: $2,000. A fixed award amount of $2,000 is available for full-time, full-year attendance at any eligible Oregon-based postsecondary institution. Students' financial need must have been at or above $2,000 to be considered. OSAC released a portion of the award to the student’s school account at the start of each academic term (quarter or semester).

Oregon Opportunity Grant Award Estimator

Award Estimator Use this estimator to determine your potential eligibility for an Opportunity Grant for the 2014-15 academic year. Grant amounts shown are estimates based on the information you provide in the estimator, not guaranteed awards.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Be an Oregon resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen. Out-of-state students who are members of Native American tribes with traditional ties to Oregon may be considered Oregon residents.
  • Be an undergraduate student with no prior baccalaureate degrees.
  • Be enrolled at least half time (i.e., at least 6 credit-hours) at a participating Oregon-based postsecondary institution.
  • Have financial need, based on the difference between cost of attendance, federal aid, and financial resources of the student and student's family, if applicable.
  • Have no defaults on federal student loans and owe no refunds on federal student grants.
  • Not be incarcerated.

Other Information

Income Limit – Student/family adjusted gross income of $70,000. Only students with incomes at or below the limit are considered for the grant.

Enrollment Status – In years with limited available funds students who are awarded grant funds but delay enrollment until later in the academic year may lose eligibility. Awards for students who are enrolled half-time in fall term may be limited to half-time amounts for all subsequent terms during the academic year.

Reapply Annually – Students must submit a new FAFSA for each academic year they plan to attend college or a postsecondary school.

OSAC awards Opportunity Grants according to a formula that includes the following:

  • Average cost of attendance at an Oregon community college or Oregon public university
  • Student share ($5800 at a community college; $8800 at a public or private nonprofit 4-year institution)
  • Family share (expected family contribution, or EFC)
  • Federal share (Federal Pell Grants and/or assumed higher education tax credits)

Students may receive an Opportunity Grant for up to four years (12 quarters or 8 semesters) of full-time enrollment, providing they maintain satisfactory academic progress and file a new FAFSA each year. Awards are prorated for half-time enrollment. Students enrolled in courses of study leading to degrees in theology, divinity, or religious education are not eligible.

Six Steps to Improve Your Chances of Being Awarded an Oregon Opportunity Grant:

  • File your FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 and well before the published priority deadline. Estimate your prior-year income and taxes, and update your FAFSA with actual numbers after you file your tax return.
  • If you are a first-time student, be sure you complete the application process for admission to at least one Oregon public or private nonprofit college/university and apply for financial aid.
  • Watch for an email from the US Department of Education about your Student Aid Report (SAR) and fix any errors right away. The email usually arrives about 3 or 4 days after you submit your FAFSA. If you don’t receive an email, check to make sure you completed the FAFSA submission process.
  • Respond right away to any requests for additional information or documents from the financial aid office at your college/university.
  • In the spring, watch for information about your financial aid package from your college.
  • Watch for an email from OSAC about your potential OOG eligibility.