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Portland State Convenes

Portland State Convenes - PSU organizes a series of public events each year to spotlight important issues facing metro Portland and Oregon.


From debt to degreeFrom Debt to Degree

Total debt from student loans across the United States now exceeds credit card and consumer debt. What can students, colleges and policy makers do to make college more affordable and reduce spiraling debt?

That was the focus of an interactive town hall discussion hosted at PSU on October 23, 2013, by Portland State University and KGW-TV. (See full video, below.)

The event, moderated by KGW anchor Tracy Barry, featured a talk by Mark Kantrowitz, a national expert on student debt and the founder of consumer websites FinAid and FastWeb, followed by remarks from Rohit Chopra, the national Ombudsman for Student Loans at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

A panel of current college students from Oregon State University and PSU discussed their own challenges in paying for college.

A recurring theme of the event was the shifting of the burden of college costs. Subsidies for higher education from state governments, particularly in Oregon, have whithered, leaving students on the hook for the bill. Many have in turn turned to borrowing the difference. This debt can create an unsustainable financial situation for new graduates or, even worse, for those students who drop out before completing the degree.

Panelists encouraged students to take advantage of the financial literacy resources available from the government and nonprofits, and to limit borrowing to no more than half of what you might earn in that first year after college.

NEW! Read the post-event report (PDF) for outcomes and next steps


The event was part of PSU Convenes, a series of public events each year spotlighting important issues facing Oregonians.

Full Video: From Debt to Degree Event at PSU



  •  The Future of Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Oregon Portland State University and The Oregonian co-hosted this public forum to discuss proposals in the Oregon Legislature that would alter voter-approved mandatory minimum sentences for crimes such as robbery, assault and sex abuse. The event drew over 200 attendees. (March 12, 2013)
    Race: Are We So DifferentA consortium of organizations led by Portland State University hosted a public conversation about race in December 2012. The event was held at Oregon Museum of Science & Industry in conjunction with its Race: Are We So Different? exhibit, and drew nearly 200 attendees.
    Mayoral Debate
  • In October 2012, one month before the general election, Portland State University hosted a mayoral debate between candidates Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales. The event drew an overflow crowd and was broadcast live on TV, radio and online.