Pay for College


Paying for College

College costs can include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. Explore ways to help pay for college.


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.

Most students pay for college in a variety of ways including financial aid, earnings from part-time or full-time jobs, savings and money from parents and family. 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. Undocumented and DACA-mented students have special considerations when applying for financial aid and paying for college.



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

Oregon Opportunity Grant

Oregon's largest state-funded need-based grant program for students planning to go to college in Oregon. Students must complete the FAFSA or ORSAA. Funds will be given to those with the greatest need first. More information and FAQ.

Oregon Promise

Provides grants for recent high school graduates to attend community college. The grant will offset tuition costs after state and federal grants are applied with a cost of at least $50/term for students. The application opens November 1. More information and FAQ.

Work-Study: 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.

Loans: Money for college that must be paid back; need-based. Loans made by the federal government usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources.

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

OSAC Scholarships

One application for over 475 scholarships available for Oregon students. The early bird deadline is February 15; the final deadline is March 1.

Institutional and Other Scholarships

Colleges and organizations offer scholarships for students based on merit (grades, leadership, athletics or other talents) as well as financial need.


Applying for Financial Aid

In order to receive financial aid, students should complete the FAFSA and/or the ORSAA. Students should complete the form(s) as soon as possible after it opens to be eligible for the most aid.


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. Opens October 1. More information and FAQ.


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. Opens October 1. More information and FAQ.

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

Students should apply to as many scholarships as possible including regional, national and college-specific scholarships. Deadlines and amounts vary.




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 offer tax advantages. Discuss options with a bank or financial institution.

Oregon College Savings Plan

A state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan that helps families and individuals plan for the cost of higher education.

Oregon Individual Development Accounts

A matched savings account for low-income students and families to earn extra money for college.