paying for college

Paying for college isn't just about tuition -- it includes student fees, room and board, class materials, transportation fees, and more. See: Standard Student Budget 2021-22

FAFSA Overview

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): Students need to complete the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for all federal and state aid programs. Students need to file the FAFSA each year they are in college in order to be considered for aid. Filing is FREE.

Eligibility: Only U.S. citizens and eligible non-residents can file a FAFSA. If a student is undocumented or has DACA status, they should file the ORSAA instead (see below).

Apply at:

Opens: October 1 -- Students should complete it ASAP each year they will be in college

Help Line: 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

FSA ID (Create Your ID)

  • Students, parents, and borrowers are required to create and use an FSA ID (username and password) to complete the FAFSA.

  • Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity when accessing your financial aid information and electronically signing federal documents.

Tax Information (IRS Data Retrieval Tool)

  • Most people can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to directly link the FAFSA to your tax records with the IRS. This can eliminate the need to submit additional documentation to your college's financial aid office.

  • If you cannot use it, we suggest ordering a Tax Transcript right away because the financial aid offices will likely request this during the verification process. You can obtain a copy of Tax Transcripts online at or by using the 4506-T.

ORSAA Overview

  • The Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) is the state's alternative to the FAFSA. It is only for students who cannot file a FAFSA.

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), other undocumented students, and students without a social security number are not eligible for federal aid such as the Pell Grant and federally subsidized loans. However, they may be considered for state funding. To collect financial need information, Oregon has created the ORSAA. Completing this application allows a student to be eligible for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the Oregon Promise Grant, and many of the scholarships operated by the Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC).

  • Should I File the ORSAA?: Take this short quiz to see if you should file an ORSAA!

  • ORSAA Tip Sheet: This three-page guide (English) (Espanol) contains many common questions students, parents, and educators have about the ORSAA.

  • Opens: October 1 -- Students are encouraged to complete their ORSAA as soon as possible and to contact OSAC if they run into any difficulties during the process.


Grants do not need to be paid back. Grants are different than scholarships in that they are typically public funds (from state or federal government) and typically need-based (for students with financial need). Because of this, most grants require students to complete either the FAFSA or ORSAA to qualify. Grants for specific populations may require an additional application.

Oregon Grants

The state has numerous grant programs for students regardless of citizenship status. All of the grants listed below require students to file a FAFSA or ORSAA. Check the specific grant for additional application requirements, eligibility guidelines, and deadlines.

Oregon Opportunity Grant: largest state-funded, need-based grant program in Oregon. OOG awards are for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Approximately 40,000 Oregonians receive an OOG award each year. Learn more about the Opportunity Grant.

Apply: Students that file the FAFSA or ORSAA are automatically considered for an OOG. No other application is needed.

Oregon Promise: Large program with specific eligibility requirements. Promise is for students who graduate an Oregon high school with a 2.5+ GPA and enroll in an Oregon community college within six months of their high school graduation. To see additional eligibility requirements visit the Oregon Promise website.

Apply: File a FAFSA or ORSAA and submit an Oregon Promise application by your specific deadline. Find your deadline here.

Chafee Education & Training Grant: Chafee ETG is a grant for current/former foster youth. It's federally-funded but administered at the state-level. Foster youth status is verified by the Oregon DHS. See eligibility details.

Apply: File a FAFSA (ORSAA non-eligible) and complete a Chafee application by March 1.

Oregon Student Child Care Grant:

The Child Care grant is for students who are pursuing a college degree while raising children of their own. The grant helps pay for child care costs of dependents age 12 and under. The application is open from mid-January until May 31. Learn more.

Oregon National Guard Tuition Assistance: ONGSTA is a program that provides funds for Oregon National Guard members to attend college. Currently drilling Air and Army Guard members are eligible. Learn more.

Deceased or Disabled Public Safety Officers Grant: DDPSO is for children/dependents of public safety officers who were disabled or killed in the line of duty. Read the DDPSO page for full guidelines and instructions on how to apply.

Federal Grants

Federal grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Education. To qualify for a federal grant, a student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The biggest federal grant program is the Pell Grant, a grant for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. This is a beneficial source of funding for students, but it is rarely enough to cover the cost of tuition by itself.

Other smaller federal grant programs are (1) FSEOG, which is administered by colleges' financial aid office, (2) TEACH Grant, which is for students pursuing a teaching career (additional requirements apply), and (3) Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for children/dependents of deceased veterans. Undocumented/DACA students are not eligible for federal grants or eligible to fill out a FAFSA (see ORSAA).


The Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) manages more than 600 private scholarship programs for Oregon residents. Students can apply for multiple scholarships with just one application! The app opens November 1 and closes March 1.

The OSAC Scholarship Application requires: a student profile, activities chart, transcripts, and four personal statements.

Supplemental documents may be required for specific scholarships. Completing the student profile first allows students to more easily find scholarships that are applicable to them. Students should create a profile and account with a permanent email, not their school email, to ensure that they can sign in to their account each year and receive award notifications. Contact OSAC for help completing your application.

Types of Loans

Overview of the differences between the federal and private loan options for students

The federal government will pay the interest on the loan while the student is enrolled in school as at least a half-time student, and when the student has authorization to defer loan payments. Students must be an undergraduate and meet specific financial criteria.

To qualify to borrow a PLUS loan, a parent must be the student’s birth parent, adoptive parent or stepparent (if stepparent's income was used to calculate student's Expected Family Contribution). The parent applying for the loan is responsible for repaying the loan. PLUS loans are available without regard to financial need but have a credit check requirement.

The student is responsible for the interest that accumulates on an unsubsidized loan while attending school, and during periods when they are authorized. Students are encouraged to make payments on the interest while they are in school if possible. This will decrease interest accrued over time. This loan is available regardless of financial need.

This federal loan program is available through participating schools to provide college financing to students with considerable financial need. Eligibility depends on your financial need and the availability of funds. Your school is your lender.