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Governor signs historic bill at PCC
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – For thousands of Oregon students, the ability to pursue an education just got easier. Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the $77.8 million Oregon Opportunity Grant, the largest need-based financial aid package in Oregon history, at the Cascade Campus’ Dan Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building on Wednesday, Sept. 28. The money will go to qualified full-time students during the current biennium and, beginning next year, eligible part-time (taking a minimum of six credits) students will qualify for these funds as well."I see education as a continuum, starting in pre-school," Kulongoski said. "And community colleges are an important pivot point between K-12 and four-year institutions."The audience included State Sen. Margaret Carter, PCC District President Preston Pulliams, Commissioner of the Department of Community Colleges & Workforce Development Cam Preus-Braly, and other local and college officials. The ceremony took place in the auditorium of the brand new PCC building, attracting more than 200 guests.The Governor took part in a roundtable discussion with 15 PCC students before the signing. Moderated by Cascade Campus President Algie Gatewood, the forum featured students asking the Governor about such topics as future funding for the grants, possible benefits for professional technical students, residency requirements, and more."You are so important to the state," Kulongoski told the students. "I want to provide you with living wage jobs and that is what I remain focused on."Kulongoski also touched on the issue of the new global economy and its relation to education."My primary responsibility to you, the city and the state is to give us the opportunity to compete in the global economy," Kulongoski said. "We need skills to compete in this economy. How do we get them? By investing in education."The Oregon Opportunity Grant will support an additional 20,000 students statewide during the next biennium. More financial aid translates to more students taking advantage of programs and courses offered at state community colleges.