Free Tuition Programs Draw Over 2,000 Students to PSU

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Two free-tuition programs at Portland State University designed to ease the financial burden of college for qualified high school students and college transfers have helped matriculate and retain more than 2,000 students to PSU in the fall term that started in September, according to newly released PSU enrollment data.

Transfers Finish Free, a new program for students who transfer to PSU from other colleges to finish their degrees, brought in 1,112 students. And Four Years Free, a program for incoming Oregon freshmen, welcomed 526 new students, adding to another 430 sophomores who started as the first cohort of the program last year. The retention rate for Four Years Free freshmen was 87 percent, which is above the retention rate for other PSU freshmen. 

Both programs cover tuition and fees for full-time, low-income students who are eligible for federal Pell grants and Oregon Opportunity Grants.

Aside from Transfers Finish Free students, overall transfers to PSU from community colleges and other institutions are up this year. PSU counted a total transfer enrollment of 3,048 students compared to 2,722 at the same time last year. This despite the fact that community college enrollment has been down for the last five years.

“The fact that we were able to increase transfer enrollment over that same period is a testament to quality of the education we provide and the populations we traditionally serve,” said Yohlunda Mosley, PSU’s assistant vice president of enrollment management.

Mosley added that PSU was able to encourage students to complete their bachelor’s degree at Portland State at a much lower cost than they’d be able to get elsewhere. 

“This program also allows students who didn’t meet the academic eligibility for Four Years Free to complete their degree without financial concerns being a barrier to their enrollment to PSU,” she said.

Although enrollment was boosted by Four Years Free and Transfers Finish Free, overall enrollment at PSU is down a little over 3 percent from last fall: 26,379 students compared with 27,305 in fall 2017. That includes a drop in the freshman class of 82 students.

PSU also saw a nearly 8 percent drop in the number of international students, following a recent trend among colleges and universities throughout the United States.

However, Latino enrollment at PSU is up 228 students from last year. At 3,665 students, Latinos make up 13.9 percent of the overall student body. Also, the percentage of women students at PSU is up, comprising 55.8 percent of the student body compared to 55.1 percent last year.

Source: Portland State University

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