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Portland State University tweaks Four Years Free program for low-income students

PMG FILE PHOTO - Students enjoy a new common area in the newly-coined Fariborz Maseeh Hall at PSU. The university is expanding eligibility for its free tuition program for Oregon residents.More Oregon students will be able to attend Portland State University for free next year, after the university made several changes to its popular tuition program.

PSU's Four Years Free program covers four years of tuition and fees for qualifying students at the state university.

Four Years Free is open to incoming freshman who graduated from an Oregon high school, meet income eligibility, are eligible for a federal Pell grant and maintained at least a 3.2 GPA in high school, according to PSU. The requirements previously required a 3.4 GPA, but was lowered to allow more students to qualify, the university said.

Deadline to apply is May 1

Oregon high school students have until May 1 to apply for the Four Years Free. Out-of-state applicants who apply to PSU by May 1 will be considered for the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which provides reduced out-of-state tuition for students from certain states and territories.

The program launched in 2017. Since then, more than 1,500 students have been able to attend PSU through the program.

"Four Years Free is a path for Oregon students to pursue higher education regardless of their income," Chuck Knepfle, vice president for enrollment management at PSU said in a news release. "Four Years Free levels the playing field for low-income students by removing the barrier of cost. We are expanding the academic eligibility of the program to double down on our commitment to equity and providing an affordable four-year education."

Knepfle said as Portland's research university, PSU hopes to amplify the potential for students to pursue higher education.

Four Years Free has been helpful for students like Kaelib LeBreton, who said the program put him on track to go to college after high school — something he may not have been able to afford.

"I joined Four Years Free because my family was not in a place to support me financially," LeBreton said. "Before I heard about this program, I did not think I would be able to go to university as soon as I wanted to. It has been a joy being in this program."

The PSU student is now a senior majoring in Japanese language and literature.

Last year, PSU's Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition rates at the university, to keep up with costs, but voted the following month to reduce those tuition hikes to just under 5%, following the passage of legislation to sink over $1 billion of revenue into colleges and universities.



By Courtney Vaughn
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