Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.95
Liaison Jenny McNamara
Submission Date June 30, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Portland State University
PA-8: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
3.34 / 4.00 Molly Bressers
Program & Outreach Coordinator
Campus Sustainability Office
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Does the institution have policies and programs in place to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

PSU has many different opportunities for low-income students to minimize the cost of attendance. Together, financial aid and scholarships make it so that 77% of PSU students receive some sort of financial assistance. PSU also does a lot to raise awareness around our various policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance. We have multiple publications that address financial aid and scholarships. We also offer programs to share information about financial aid and scholarships with prospective students, especially during our Bridges programs-- open houses for students of color, first generation college students, and low-income students.

Diversity Scholarship Programs: Fifty-six students comprised the fall 2009 freshmen cohort, supported through a first-term college success skills class and case-managed advising, had a 100% retention rate for Fall Term 2010. Of the 175 students supported through the Diversity Scholarship Programs, 47 graduated during AY 2009-2010. The Diversity Scholars provided over 4,000 hours of community service on campus and in the Metro area.

Jim Sells Childcare Assistance Program: This program, funded by the Student Incidental Fee, provides subsidies to cover up to 50% of the out-of-pocket cost of childcare for financially eligible students. In the 2013-2014 academic year, over 200 families received assistance from this program. Total amount awarded was over $590,000.

Diversity Scholarship Programs: The program promotes diversity and student participation in campus life through volunteerism and academic excellence. Scholarship recipients will share their unique strengths and diverse perspectives through their involvement in on-campus activities, in the classroom and through their participation in community service. The Diversity Enrichment Scholarship is a renewable tuition-remission credit in the amount of 12 undergraduate credits at the resident tuition rate excluding fees (actual amount varies).

This scholarship attracts outstanding students from diverse backgrounds, including racial and ethnic backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in higher education and pursuin their first bachelors degree. The Diversity Enrichment Scholarship gives preferences to those who are/have:
Oregon residents
Financial need (federally defined)
First-generation* college students
* First-generation is defined as neither parent has a 4-year college degree from a U.S. university.

The Access Program is designed to help support students during their first year at Portland State University by providing academic advising, help with identifying and setting academic goals, and referrals to campus and community resources. In addition to these support services, students participated in a college success class. In an attempt to alleviate financial deficiencies Access students receive $1000 in tuition remission per quarter during their first year at Portland State University.

The GANAS program is a year-long support/mentor program designed to help new Latino/a students transition to PSU from high school. Students enrolled in this program will become active members of the campus community and will acquire skills and tools that will lead to continuing success beyond the first year at PSU. Students receive a partial tuition remission per term.

This program accepts 20 new students every year and provides some financial assistance for the first year. All enrolled students receive assistance to actively identify additional financial resources to support their education. Overall the GANAS program provides a variety of services intended to help students adjust to the college environment and achieve their academic goals.

TRiO-SSS Mission
The mission of TRIO programs is to expand educational opportunity to persons often underrepresented in higher education; increase the retention and graduation rates of eligible low income, first generation and disabled students, and to foster an institutional climate supportive of the success for those students through comprehensive services and advocacy.

TRiO-SSS assists students to:
Strengthen academic skills necessary for college level course work through classes and workshops
Connect with cultural and social enrichment activities to find a sense of community
Improve and maintain the GPA necessary to achieve academic goals
Graduate with a Bachelor’s degree
TRiO-SSS can provide you the following services:
Academic and career advising
Priority class registration for the following term
Graduate and professional school counseling
Financial Literacy (such as loan forgiveness, financial aid application, managing personal budgets)
Access to our Student Lounge and Quiet Study areas
FREE printing in our computer lab
Laptop and calculator loaner programs
Additional tutoring services including individual writing support
For credit classes to SSS students at no charge. (Ex. writing, Summer Bridge)
Scholarship resources and assistance
Make appropriate referrals to campus and community resources

A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:


A brief description of any programs to prepare students from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

Upward Bound
Upward Bound, a college preparation program for high school students, is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It is a year-round program designed to improve students' academic and study skills in high school, to develop their career and educational plans, and to help them enter and succeed in higher education. Upward Bound serves 81 low income, first generation high school students from the following schools or campuses: Franklin High School, Grant High School, Jefferson Campus, Madison High School, and Benson High School. To date, 95% of our students stay in our program through high school graduation and since 2000, 75% of these students have either graduated from college or are still in college.
All students receive:
-Academic guidance and counseling on a year-round basis
-Daily tutoring in high school courses
-Semester-long courses for high school credit
-A 6-week summer academic program
-Assistance with career and college planning and financial aid
-Opportunities for summer work-study positions (up to $900 for the summer)
-Opportunities to visit colleges and explore careers
-Technology skill-building: web design, photo editing, movie editing, Internet research skills
Upward Bound involves parents:
a. Inform parents about Upward Bound events.
b. Communicate with parents about student participation in Upward Bound activities, especially the tutorial program.
c. Invite parents to participate in and assist with events and activities.
d. Encourage parents to continue their education by taking classes.
e. Ask parents for suggestions for improving Upward Bound curriculum and activities.
Educational Talent Search:
ETS serves 685 students in the Portland and Hillsboro School Districts. A large percentage (over 67%) of our student population is comprised of under-represented ethnic minority students. Since 1993, 92% of our annual high school graduates enroll in college immediately after high school.
(Source: http://www.pdx.edu/dmss/pre-college-programs)

McNair Scholars
The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program at Portland State University (PSU) works with motivated and talented undergraduates who want to pursue PhDs. It introduces juniors and seniors who are first-generation and low-income, and/or members of under-represented groups to academic research and to effective strategies for getting into and graduating from PhD programs.
(Source: http://www.pdx.edu/mcnair-program/)

Admissions: In support of PSU’s commitment to access, the Office of Admissions serves low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students to educate them on the benefits of higher education, and recruit them to Portland State University. The Admissions Office works with high school students, family members, community based organizations, and community leaders on a regular basis to familiarize them with higher education and the steps to enrollment at PSU. The following is a listing of the activities, events and strategies implemented to increase diversity at PSU. In fall 2014, forty percent of new Freshmen identified as ethnically diverse, a four percent increase from the year prior and a two year increase of over eight percent.
● Planned and executed “Bridges”, PSU’s visit program for students of color (600+ attended)
● Held over 20 on-site admissions events in Oregon Public Schools, the vast majority held at Portland Public Schools and focused on underrepresented students.
● Participated over 40 events targeting students of color and their family members in PDX Metro Area from January 2013 – May 2014
● Planned and executed 2 diversity luncheons for admitted students and family members for students of color
● Planned and executed admitted student reception and new student orientation sessions in Hawaii (Attendees are predominantly students of color)
● Partnered with Hillsboro HS to bring 400 high school students to PSU for years beginning in 2010
● Planned and executed over 50 group visits for high school who wanted to bring students to PSU’s campus
● Visited diverse Portland Public high schools at least three times during fall recruitment cycle
● Hosted “Paying for PSU & pizza party family members during Roosevelt HS and Grant HS basketball game to discuss paying for college
● Partnered with MECHA for Educate’ conference. PSU was the exclusive University at conference allowing us to talk about PSU admissions/scholarships. This exclusivity was MECHA’s plan.
● Student ambassadors presented with Admissions Counselors at recruitment events in high schools with high populations of underrepresented students
● Executed variable marketing campaign to students of color in OR who took the SAT/ACT in their senior year
● Improved communication plan for students of color to introduce them to campus programs and services
● Through improved outreach and communication, Increased by 50% the number of family members participating in the annual bilingual family orientation program (N=37 family members)

Through admissions, we have a number of opportunities for parents to learn more about the process of admission and the student's first year at PSU. Most notable among them, PSU hosts a fall and spring visit program (including the Bridges programs) and our regular Orientation programs. There is one family program at orientation for bilingual family members (Spanish) where all content is in Spanish. All of these programs have workshops, panels, and receptions specifically geared toward parents of prospective and incoming students.
● Admissions has a family newsletter for parents of current students.
● All admitted student’s family members receive a “Paying for PSU” brochure and a letter from the President discussing the value of a PSU education.

A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

Portland State has a number of scholarships for low-income students. Beyond our general scholarships that are available for all eligible students, we have some specifically geared toward high need and first generation college students. We currently have seven scholarships for student with high financial need with awards from $1,500 to $3,000. In addition we have ten scholarships for first generation college students that award $2000 to $5000.
Portland State offers a wide variety of scholarships to meet the needs of our diverse student body. Some scholarships are based on:
-Financial need
-Diverse and unique backgrounds
-First generation status
(Source: http://www.pdx.edu/finaid/scholarship)

A brief description of any programs to guide parents of low-income students through the higher education experience:

Through admissions, we have a number of opportunities for parents to learn more about the process of admission and the student's first year at PSU. Most notable among them, PSU hosts a fall and spring visit program (including the Bridges programs) and our regular Orientation programs. There is one family program at orientation for bilingual family members (Spanish) where all content is in Spanish. All of these programs have workshops, panels, and receptions specifically geared toward parents of prospective and incoming students.
Admissions has a family newsletter for parents of current students.
All admitted student’s family members receive a “Paying for PSU” brochure and a letter from the President discussing the value of a PSU education.

A brief description of any targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

“The Bridges programs would be the most obvious example of targeted outreach. Bridges is Portland State University's annual open house for high school students, who are low income, first generation, or from ethnically diverse backgrounds, who are exploring college opportunities. Admitted Student Programs are held in spring for first year students. At these events, a diversity luncheon is hosted where students are introduced to other newly admitted students of color and current PSU students and staff who work in areas that hold programs and have services important to underrepresented, first generation and low income.
PSU also makes a concerted effort to participate in community events where low-income students will be present, such as college fairs and college nights. We also visit high schools around the country. Our counselors are equipped to answer the questions of low income students and their families when they meet them during recruitment.
Bilingual Family Orientation:
Alongside New student Orientation we partnered with Diversity and Multicultural Student Services, Financial Aid, and various campus academic advisers to offer a Bilingual Spanish Orientation for Latino Families on July 11, 2014. This track allowed parents and family members to receive the same information as our English speaking families on how to support their student(s) through their transition to college and how to be successful during their academic careers. Approximately 47 family members participated.

A brief description of other admissions policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

Advising Programs have recently been improved so that all students receive mandatory advising during their first year. http://www.pdx.edu/advising/
PSU's admission policies and programs try to balance the priorities of access and excellence. We strive to recruit and admit students who will be successful in the PSU environment. Initial evaluations of students take into account their GPA, completion of 15 core subject areas with a C- or better, and standardized test scores. While grades tend to be the best indicators of success, we also acknowledge that there are other factors in students lives. Because of these other factors, when students do not meet our general admission requirements, we offer opportunities to explain why and prove they would be successful candidates for admission through a more holistic admission process. Rolling admissions is another example of our commitment to access.
The federal government offers a number of financial aid programs. Besides aid from the U.S. Department of Education (discussed below),a student may also receive:
● aid for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran,
● tax benefits for education,
● an Education Award for community service with AmeriCorps,
● Educational and Training Vouchers for current and former foster care youth, and/or
● scholarships and loan repayment through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, and National Health Service Corps.
The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to more than 14 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees,room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs; ask the schools you’re interested in whether they do!
Federal student aid includes:
● Grants—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund)
● Loans— borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest
● Work-Study—a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school”

A brief description of other financial aid policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

PSU’s Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships operates under the State and Federal directive that higher education should be accessible and affordable to all low-income students. Further more, we have adopted the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, ‘Principles of Excellence’ policy. Every staff member of the department agrees, acknowledges, and signs a statement of adherence to the following:
• Commit to removing financial barriers for those who want to pursue postsecondary learning
and support each student admitted to our institution.
• Without charge, assist students in applying for financial aid funds.
• Provide services and apply principles that do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender,
ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, or economic status.

A brief description of other policies and programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students not covered above:

We have an Assistant Director of Compliance and Quality Assurance as well as a compliance committee. Our office also maintains compliance with annual assessments and audits to ensure we are maintaining the highest level of equity.

Does the institution have policies and programs in place to support non-traditional students?:

A brief description of any scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

Currently, there are no scholarships that specifically designed for part-time students. However, some of the colleges and departments award scholarships to part time and/or non-traditional students. 2014 fall term, the university paid out $202,196 to students whose enrollment indicator is less than full time.

A brief description of any onsite child care facilities, partnerships with local facilities, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

Campus Childcare

Little Vikings Drop-In Childcare Center - Provides drop-in, reserved and occasional care for children of students, staff and faculty ages 6 weeks to 12 years. Pay only for the care you need.

ASPSU Children’s Center- 126 Smith Memorial Student Union, 503-725-2273. PSU’s short and long hourly childcare for students, staff and faculty.

Helen Gordon Child Development Center- PSU’s full-day infant/toddler, preschool and kindergarten program and laboratory, which serves 200 children, aged four-months to six years.

A brief description of other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (accessibility and affordability indicators)?:

Indicators that the institution is accessible and affordable to low-income students::
Percentage (0-100)
The percentage of entering students that are low-income 76
The graduation/success rate for low-income students 55
The percentage of student financial need met, on average 56
The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt 47

The percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students:

The website URL where information about the institution's affordability and access programs is available:

Source: CeCe Ridder Dr, Diversity and Multicultural Student Services - Student Affairs

The graduation rate for ‘low-income’ students for 2014 was 55% This number was based on the total number of graduating students that were Pell grant eligible.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.