President's Progress Report 2016
Author: Wim Wiewel
Posted: March 10, 2016

Making college affordable

Portland State has deep roots in the metro area we serve. We partner with hundreds of businesses, organizations, schools and governments. Nearly 100,000 of our alumni live, work and raise families here.

The University and the region face a formidable challenge, however, since the cost of a college education has escalated as state support has declined. Students destined to be our next generation of leaders and innovators are in danger of racking up high levels of debt that could limit their future choices. Many are being priced out of college altogether. 

A citizens group has filed a proposed ballot measure called the College Affordability and Student Success initiative.  The tri-county measure would ask voters in November to consider a tax paid by businesses. The additional revenue would pay for need-based scholarships for metro-area students and for other support at PSU, such as new advisers and faculty.   The proposed measure would levy a business payroll tax of 1/10th of 1 percent to raise an estimated $35 million to $40 million a year for scholarships and student support. A business with a $1 million payroll, for example, would pay $1,000. 

Seventy percent our students—many of them first-generation, working parents and underrepresented minorities—receive financial aid, often in the form of loans. Total unmet need for undergraduates who qualify for financial aid is an astonishing $150 million. At the same time, Oregon employers are calling on PSU to produce more skilled graduates to grow their businesses and the local economy.

As you read through this progress report you will see how PSU is changing lives and transforming our community for the better. Enjoy!

Wim Wiewel
President, Portland State University