How to Read Your Financial Aid Award

The hard part’s over—you’ve been admitted to PSU! We bet another big question is now on your mind. How are you going to pay for college?

Once you get your financial aid award in the mail and start reading what funds you’ve been offered, it can be hard to understand what it all means. Especially when you want to know, in hard numbers, how much going to PSU will cost. We’re here to help and to break it down for you.


Your financial aid award is based off the information you provided in your financial aid application, your academic accomplishments and your residency status.

Your student account at banweb.pdx.edu is your go-to place to see information about your financial aid award and submit documents. If you haven’t already, use your PSU ID (your ID is at the top of financial aid award sheet) to set up your student account by going to oam.pdx.edu. This will give you access to banweb and to your student email account.

Important Deadlines

May 1 is the deadline to accept your financial aid award in the “Financial Aid” tab in Banweb.

August 1 is the deadline to submit any outstanding documents. You won’t know for sure how much money you’ll get until you submit all required documents. Submitting them after the deadline may delay your financial aid or result in the loss of an award. Log into your student account at Banweb and look at “Outstanding Documents” in your “Financial Aid” tab to see what you still need to submit.

Read more detailed information about your financial aid award.


Now, let’s look at your 2019-20 Financial Aid Award sheet. You’ll see something like this:

Financial Aid Award

The amounts will vary depending on your residency and what scholarships, grants, federal work study and loans you qualify for. Keep in mind these numbers are estimates, but it gives you a good idea about what you should expect to pay. Let’s break things down even further.

Cost of Tuition and Books

Your annual tuition rate is based on full time enrollment, where you take 15 credits per term for 3 terms a year (students are eligible for financial aid for full time enrollment if they are taking at least 12 credits per term). Each undergraduate credit translates to 1 hour in class per week, and classes vary between 1-4 credits each. Also, keep in mind that some majors have higher rates per credit for tuition, like engineering and art majors.

Tuition rates differ depending on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. You may even qualify for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), a program that offers qualifying, out-of-state students 150% of in-state tuition. Learn more in our dedicated blog.

The cost of books and supplies is also an estimate. It takes into account textbooks, lab materials, software, pens, notebooks, etc. You can save money in many ways, like renting your books at the PSU bookstore.

Grants and Scholarships

This section covers your grants and scholarships—free money to help you pay for college. Grants usually come from the federal government and help low-income students pay for tuition. Scholarships can come from the government too, but they also come from corporations and the university. They are usually merit-based, meaning students can get money for almost any skill or interest they have.

Remember, if you receive non-PSU scholarships, you must report them to Financial Aid at scholarships@pdx.edu to make sure they’re calculated and available for you to use.

Other Expenses

College costs can’t be summed up in just tuition, however, so we give you an estimate for your other living expenses. The housing estimates are annual and based on on-campus housing rates. If you’re living at home, for example, your housing cost will be much different. Since these costs vary so widely, make sure to calculate your actual housing, transportation and other living costs. The total estimated cost of attendance in this section doesn’t factor in grants, scholarships, loans, work study or other ways you could pay for college.

Ways to Pay

If you need more help paying for college, there are other options for you to consider. You could qualify for Federal Work Study, a type federal student aid offered to qualified students based on financial need and availability of funds. But if you’re not offered Federal Work Study, you can apply for on-campus jobs—working at PSU is great because we work with your class schedule and prioritize your learning.

Loans, unlike scholarships and grants, must be paid back after you’re out of school. Loans are a shortfall between the funds you HAVE and the funds you NEED. Before you take out a student loan, connect with the Financial Wellness Center coaches for guidance.


Figuring out how you’ll pay for college can be daunting, but there are many ways it can be affordable. If you’re still confused, check out the Financial Aid website—they have more examples of financial aid awards and how to read them. Don’t hesitate to contact Financial Aid if you have questions.

If you want to learn more about all these financial aid options, check out our blog all about understanding financial aid.

 

Top 5 Reasons to Live On Campus at Portland State

Campus Housing

We know the last thing you need to worry about when you come to Portland State University for your first term is where you’ll live. You already have to deal with college applications, financial aid and scholarships essays. Not to mention jobs, chores, assignments and… you know, life.

So we’ve made it easy. Simply apply for housing by the priority deadline, May 1, and you’ll have easy access to all the beauty and excitement downtown Portland has to offer.

Here are five reasons why living on campus is a rewarding and irreplaceable experience.


1. Get better grades

National research shows that students who live on campus have higher GPAs and are more likely to graduate on time than their off-campus peers.

Living on campus also means access to a ton of academic support. Academic coaching, Resident Academic Mentors and an after hours in-hall academic support center are all available to help you succeed.

2. Forge lifelong friendships

Living with your peers is an amazing way to meet new people who share your passions. You can even choose to live on floors with your Freshman Inquiry classmates. Part of PSU’s unique University Studies program, Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) classes are a theme-based, interdisciplinary approach to education that foster close cohorts of students.

Applying to the Honors College? There are Honors-only housing, so you can be part of that dedicated, close-knit community. Are you an international student? You can live with other international students who will relate to your experience. Are you a transfer student? Well, you can live with other transfer and upperclass students as well. PSU strives to house students with people in their community.

PSU’s diverse student body means you will encounter students from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

3. Be healthy and happy

PSU has a ton of awesome (and free) ways you can relax and stay stress free on campus. You can see a movie in the 5th Avenue Cinema, a student run cinema that plays films you wouldn’t normally get to see on the big screen—and there’s free popcorn!

Stay fit and have fun at Campus Rec. You can take a dip in the on-campus pool or hot tub, climb the rock climbing wall, attend a Zumba class and much more.

Through Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), you can also get accessible, on-campus mental and physical health services from a team of dedicated professionals. The counseling services are free for all students taking five or more credits. You can even use the Mind Spa, a space where you can meditate, do yoga, play biofeedback games, relax in a massage chair and use the light therapy alcove.

4. Stay safe

Public safety officers patrol our neighborhoods 24/7, keeping our campus community safe. Our buildings require special access, only granted to building residents. You can even use one of the call boxes throughout campus or call Campus Dispatch directly if you would like a safe walk home late at night.

Since you’ll already be on campus, you can get to class without driving in stressful rush-hour traffic. To top it off, you have easy access to all of Portland’s public transit options.

5. Save money

Living on campus means no credit checks, no worrying about paying utilities, no landlord disputes and no hassle about complicated contracts and fine print. And of course, it’s cheaper than living anywhere else downtown. Not to mention that payment plans are also available.

There are so many on-campus housing options, which range from vintage flair to modern chic. So stop worrying about where you’ll live and focus instead on what’s important: which food cart has the best gyros.


If you’re worried about moving to campus as a first year student, check out our blog all about easing homesickness—it lays out even more resources to make your transition to living on campus easy and enjoyable.

Apply for on-campus housing!

Get to Know the PSU Library

It’s safe to say that students have become accustomed to looking to the internet for everything. Need to research for an assignment? Wikipedia and Google Scholar are just a click away, right from the comfort of your home. But you shouldn’t overlook the PSU Library. It’s a powerful resource for students, which can be utilized both in person and online. Since there are so many resources, it can be hard to figure out where to start. Let us walk you through it.


Millar Library

The PSU Library, also called the Branford Price Millar Library (Millar for short), is that building with the curved windows overlooking a big tree and the Park Blocks. The rumors are true—the 1989 addition to the building was made to surround the ancient Copper Beech tree, rather than replace it. The historic tree and surrounding library symbolize PSU’s dedication to environmental awareness and preservation of the Pacific Northwest’s beauty.

During the term, the library is open from 7:30 a.m.-Midnight, with shorter hours on the weekend. Hours vary for different resources and for holidays, so check out their website for more information.

What You’ll Find

Resource Floor Breakdown
Circulation Desk 1 Your go-to place to check out anything you might need: books, study room keys, laptops, chargers, headphones and Course Reserves (short term loans of textbooks or other materials for class).
Study Rooms Basement,
3, 4 and 5
Every PSU student gets up to 15 hours of study room time per week. There are lots of study rooms to choose from, with different sizes and equipment. Reserve a study room online.
Computer Labs 1 and 2 Across both labs, you’ll find over 100 computers, both Macs and PCs. There are also printers you can use from lab computers or online from your personal computer. Make sure to have your student ID handy when you go to print.
Reference Desk 2 Need help finding a book or starting your research? Ask a librarian at the Reference Desk. They’re available to answer your questions.
Learning Center 2 Here you can meet with tutors and get help with almost any subject you could need, including academic coaching. They even offer some tutoring online. Check out their tutor schedule.
Writing Center Outpost 2 You’ll find Writing Center tutors at this outpost, right near the Learning Center. They’re open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-noon and take drop-ins. If you need more extensive help or can’t make those hours, visit the main Writing Center in Cramer Hall 188.
3D Printer 2 PSU students can print projects using the library’s 3D printer for only 15 cents per gram. You can use the printer for class or just for fun, printing other people’s designs or creating your own!
Bradford’s Bean 1 Can’t get through your study session without a pick-me-up? This little coffee bar serves Peet’s Coffee and variety of sandwiches, healthy snacks and pastries.
Quiet Floors Basement, 4 and 5 Here you’ll find study cubicles and chairs, all designed to give students a quiet and comfortable place. Remember… Shhhh…

Librarians

The library employs a large staff of librarians who specialize in any subject you can imagine. Get in contact with your subject librarian for specialized help. You can meet with librarians in person or chat with them online.

Books and Collections

Explore the many shelves of books at your leisure. Need to find something specific? Check out the PSU Library Catalog, which you can do on your own computer or by using one of the dedicated Research Kiosks throughout the library.

What if you find a book that isn’t available in the PSU Library? You have access to books from Summit and Interlibrary Loan. Summit is an alliance between 39 colleges and universities in Oregon, Washington and Idaho that makes their collections available to students in participating schools. You can request a book from Summit through the Library Catalog, and a school that has it will send it to the PSU Library for you to pick it up. Books only take about 5 days to arrive. If Summit doesn’t have the materials you need, you can request them from Interlibrary Loan. However, getting books this way takes longer and is less reliable than through Summit.

The PSU Library has a number of Special Collections and Archives, featuring everything from African American History in Oregon to rare Medieval manuscripts. PSU even has a complete Dark Horse Comics Collection! You can read and check out the comics from the browsing collection located on the third, fourth and fifth floors facing the curved windows. Learn more about the Dark Horse Comics Collection in our blog about comics at PSU and in Portland.

Students in Special Collections
Students looking at rare books in the PSU Library Special Collections.

Online

The PSU Library online resources can be accessed from your home computer or on campus. The library website is the first place you should go when you need to do research for class.

Ask a Librarian

You can chat with a librarian 24/7 using Ask a Librarian. Just open up a chat and send them any questions you have about finding a source, using the library services and more.  

Databases

Have you ever used Google Scholar, found an awesome source, then realized you needed to pay to read it? That’s why you should use the databases through the PSU Library. PSU pays all those fees for you to access articles and materials online, but you have to go through the website to take advantage of it.

Subject Guides

If you don’t know where to start your research, or you want more information about a subject you’re studying in class, check out the Subject and Course Guides. The librarians who specialize in these topics put together special guides with a bunch of useful resources. They make it as easy as possible for you to get the resources you need, like relevant databases, industry journals and more.

PDXScholar

Ever wanted to find work published by PSU students and faculty? PDXScholar is a database that provides access to all the articles and research put out by people at PSU, including studies, dissertations and theses, university archives, journals and open access textbooks.


Go explore the library in person and online, so you know everything you have access to as a PSU student!​  

Upcoming Events: March 2019

Events in March

This March is the month of creativity at PSU. Performances, concerts and seminars will be heard all around campus, beckoning students to take a break from school work and enjoy the show. Here are some event highlights happening in March. For a more comprehensive list, check out the PSU events calendar.


Redefining Failure: Empowering Women of Color in Business

Friday, 1 | 12:00-2:30 p.m. | Karl Miller Atrium
Join PSU’s School of Business and Women’s Resource Center for this annual event. Hear from local leaders of color within a business as they share insights to visibility in the workplace and sustaining in a predominantly white field and city, as well as stories of redefining failure through lessons gained along the way. These speakers will be providing TEDx Talks on their experience followed by a Q&A. This event is free and light refreshments will be provided. Learn more and register to attend (required).

In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play

Friday, 3 – Saturday, 9 Various showings | Lincoln Performance Hall
This play is set in the 1860s, when a new invention has electrified the Victorian home of Dr. and Mrs. Catherine Givings. Don’t miss this provocative comedy from Sarah Ruhl about electricity, pleasure and true intimacy. This play is for mature audiences. Tickets are $6 – $15, which you can get online.

Creative Writing Program Reading Series:
Suzanne Matson and Andrea Hollander

Monday, 4 | 6:30-8:00 p.m. | SMSU 333
Fiction writer Suzanne Matson and poet Andrea Hollander read from their new work, hosted by the Creative Writing program. These readings are always free and open to the public. View their readings calendar.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Wednesday, 6 | 1:00-2:30 p.m. | SMSU M211
This conversation, facilitated by Jen Mitas, encourages attendees to reflect on their own role in the social networks that make a positive impact on the places we live. This is a free event hosted by the Office of Academic Innovation. RSVP online.

Frida Fest

Friday, 8 | 5:00-7:00 p.m. | Parkway North, SMSU 101
Diversity and Multicultural Student Services is hosting this event to celebrate International Women’s Day with influence from Frida Kahlo’s life. Come enjoy various activities, catered food and music. This is a free event.

Ladies’ Lab Night

Saturday, 9 | 12:00-6:30 p.m. | Hoffman Hall
At this event, young women in the Portland community interested in science are invited to meet the women doing research in PSU’s biology, chemistry, geology, physics and engineering labs. Attendees are able to learn about the amazing work these women are doing, make valuable connections and see what a career in science might look like. Everyone is welcome to attend, regardless of gender or age (children must be above 9). RSVP online and see the event schedule.

PSU Vocal Collective: A Celebration of Women in Art

Wednesday, 13 | 7:00 p.m. | Lincoln Recital Hall (LH 75)
The PSU Vocal Collective and Advanced Vocal Combo present a concert of music by female composers and arrangers. They will explore topics of women’s rights, empowerment, strength, love and grace through a selection of contemporary compositions. This event is free and open to the public.

Elevating Impact Summit

Friday, 15 | 8:00a.m.-5:00 p.m. | The Portland Armory
Join The School of Business’ Impact Entrepreneurs to celebrate business for positive social, environmental and economic impact. Attendees enjoy talks on the main stage, a pitch fest for local entrepreneurs, exhibits and activities on the mezzanine levels and breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon reception. Student tickets are $25 and regular tickets are $110. Learn more and buy tickets online.

My Soul Is a Witness: Spirit and Spirituality in the Songs of America’s Enslaved

Sunday, 17 | 4:00 p.m. | Lincoln  Recital Hall (LH 75)
Listen to lyric tenor Leroy E. Bynum, Jr., Dean of the College of the Arts, and Music faculty Chuck Dillard, on piano. This recital will explore both the spirit and spirituality of America’s “slave songs” captured in concert arrangement by several of the 20th century’s most celebrated arrangers of spirituals. This event is free and open to the public.

Mandelring Quartet

Monday, 18 and Tuesday, 19 | 7:30 p.m. | Lincoln Performance Hall
Listen to the Mandelring Quartet, presented by Friends of Chamber Music. The four individual members are as one in their shared determination to seek out the innermost core of the music.  Their approach to the music is always both emotional and personal. Tickets range from $30-$55 and can be purchased online.

We Met in Moscow

Friday, 22-Sunday, 31 | Various showings | Alpenrose Dairy Opera House
This musical is based on the lives of Eleonora Andreevna and Ralph Bunch, Portland State University professor emeritus. Both middle-aged and broken-hearted when they met, the show not only explores the unique way this couple fell in love during the post-Cold War era but also the adventures they had exploring their cultural differences. Tickets range from $5-$18 and can be purchased online.

Vikings Sports

Vikings Basketball, Tennis and Golf are playing all month. Make sure to check out the PSU Vikings event calendar for a detailed schedule.

Portland: A Comics Hub

Comics in Portland

Portland is a city full of creative people. It should be no surprise, then, that it’s a hub for comics lovers. Portland is home to some of the best indie comics publishers, numerous comic book shops and endless events. And Portland State helps foster this vibrant community, offering one of the only programs in the nation where students can learn about and make comics.

We’ve compiled a list of all the things PSU and Portland have to offer for folks interested in the comics scene.


At PSU
Comics Studies Program

PSU students can earn a Comics Studies Certificate. This program takes an interdisciplinary approach, getting students hands-on practice to create comics, learn theory and make connections with the publishing industry. This is a 24-credit undergraduate certificate that can be fulfilled in conjunction with a bachelor’s degree. Students studying related topics, like English or Graphic Design, would be a great match for this program. The Comics Studies program helps students get internships with local companies, like Dark Horse and Oni Press.

The Comics Studies program has professors who are accomplished professionals in the comics industry. You can learn writing from Brian Michael Bendis, who has won five Eisner Awards and is the primary architect of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. He is the co-creator of Miles Morales, the character who was recently adapted into the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie. You can also take a class from Shannon Wheeler, acclaimed cartoonist for The New York Times and creator of the satirical superhero Too Much Coffee Man.

Portland State is inspired by the creativity and innovation coming out of the comic-book scene in Portland. PSU’s mission is to connect students to the local comics community. Comics Studies students are taking what they learned at PSU and getting jobs doing what they love in Portland and beyond, as comics artists, writers and scholars.

PSU Comics Club

PSU has an active community of comics makers and enthusiasts. Many of these students are members of the PSU Comics Club, a student organization dedicated to connecting people interested in comics through reading discussion groups and other events.

Library Collection

PSU’s Millar Library has an extensive Dark Horse Comics Collection—so extensive that they have a copy of EVERY Dark Horse comic book, graphic novel, poster, figure, etc. the press has ever produced. PSU takes care to collect, document and make the collection available because of Dark Horse’s value in Oregon history. But it’s also important because Mike Richardson, founder and creative mastermind behind Dark Horse, graduated with a degree in art from PSU in 1977.

The Dark Horse Comics Collection includes a research collection and browsing collection. The browsing collection is on the third, fourth and fifth floors facing the curved windows. These books are easy to find and pursue, and you can read them in the library or check them out. If you want to look at the research collection for scholarly reasons, you’ll have to make an appointment in Special Collections.


In Portland
Comics Publishers

The comics produced in Portland run the gamut from zines printed in garages by small artists to the most popular comic series and graphic novels in the nation by local publishers.

  • Dark Horse Comics: We’d be surprised if a comic book reader hadn’t heard of Dark Horse. They’re the publisher behind many critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful comics, like Sin City, Hellboy, Aliens and Star Wars, just to name a few. We love that PSU alumnus, Mike Richardson, is the founder of Dark Horse! Their headquarters are just South of Portland in Milwaukie.
  • Oni Press: Located just across the Hawthorne Bridge from PSU, Oni Press publishes a different kind of comic—they avoid publishing anything superhero. Instead, you’ll find comics like Rick and Morty, Invader Zim and Scott Pilgrim.
  • Image Comics: One of the biggest comics publishers with numerous imprints, Image Comics recently moved their headquarters to Northwest Portland. Since their imprints feature so many genres, it’s hard to sum up their titles, but The Walking Dead, Saga and Unnatural are some of their most popular.
  • Microcosm Publishing: Granted, Microcosm publishes more than comics, but they do have an impressive number of totally unique zines and graphic novels. They’re known for their punk approach to publishing, featuring titles about art, radical politics and odd humor. They also boast way more women authors than the industry standard. Their headquarters are in Northeast Portland.
Comic Book Stores

We’d need a pretty long list to feature ALL the comic book stores in Portland, so we’ve compiled just a few of our favorites.

  • Books with Pictures: Their mission is to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, race or disability status. They stock everything from indie to LGBTQ to all-age comics. You can find them near the famous Ladd’s Addition neighborhood on Division Street.
  • Bridge City Comics: In North Portland, you’ll find Bridge City Comics, which offers both new and used comics and a large Portland-based creators section.
  • Cosmic Monkey Comics: Everyone from new comics fans to avid collectors can find something in Cosmic Monkey Comics’ huge selection of comics and collectibles. They’re located in Northeast Portland.
  • Floating World Comics: Located in Chinatown, Floating World Comics carries more than comics, offering records, original artwork and kids titles. Their online shop is also impressive and gives you an idea about what you’ll find in store.
Events

Author signings and comic book releases happen frequently, so follow comic book shops and publishers online to see what’s coming up.

  • Wizard World: This comic con is coming up—February 22-24. Wizard World boasts impressive celebrity guests and outstanding vendors.
  • Rose City Comic Con: In September, you can go to this annual comic book and pop culture convention. Tens of thousands of people attend each year, many of whom dress up in comic-inspired cosplay.
  • Kumoricon: If anime and Japanese pop culture is more your speed, check out this convention in November. Attendees dress up as their favorite anime characters, play games, watch panels and more.
  • Meetups: Portland hosts an impressive number of comics-related meetups, boasting hundreds of members.

So, go read a comic, preferably one made by a Portland publisher, found in the PSU Library or purchased from an independent shop. Make connections and be a part of the thriving comics scene.

Learn how you can apply to PSU and enter the Comics Studies program.

Dark Horse Comics Collections
Memorabilia and comics in the PSU Library Dark Horse Collections.

Engineering a Future for Women in STEM

Lauren Krueger, Electrical Engineer

When students start thinking about college, it can be hard to visualize what they’ll accomplish after graduating—they may not even know what they want to study, let alone what career they’ll have.

This was certainly true for Lauren Krueger, Portland State University alumni who graduated in 2013, with a degree in Electrical Engineering. At first, Lauren wasn’t sure what she wanted to study, but she knew PSU was a good option.

Now she’s an Electrical Engineer at Interface Engineering.

Initially, Lauren was drawn to PSU because it was familiar and close to home—she is a third-generation PSU student. PSU’s proximity to Portland and surrounding communities meant she could commute and reduce the cost of attending college. She ultimately decided PSU was the right choice because of its abundance of science and engineering opportunities in the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Sciences.

“Growing up I was never naturally inclined toward math or science,” admits Lauren. But despite the challenges, she studied what interested her. “During my first two years of school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in, but I knew that calculus, physics and women’s studies were my favorite subjects, and that I wanted to be in a field where I could help create pathways for and elevate women and underrepresented minorities.”

“Lauren never settles for the conventional,” says Dr. Robert Bass, Lauren’s former undergraduate professor and academic advisor. “She will pursue the path that she knows is best for her, regardless of the obstacles or perceived conventions.”

She took advantage of the resources available to PSU students, including the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), a program dedicated to supporting the success of underrepresented STEM majors. When she met some Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) students in the LSAMP program, she found her calling. Because she struggled with STEM subjects, she says “it took a lot of perseverance to pursue an Electrical Engineering degree.”

Lauren served on the LSAMP Student Leadership Board for three years. “She was always committed to making it smoother for students who struggled to earn a STEM degree. She used her own experiences to inspire others,” says Dr. Lorna Tran, former LSAMP Director and current Community College Liaison.

Lauren also acted as a role model for future students when she was a Student Ambassador in PSU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. She spoke with people visiting campus, led campus tours and was source of information for students. Not only did it equip Lauren with the networking skills and self-confidence she would find invaluable in her professional career, but it showed her how she could make a real impact on other students’ lives.

Dr. Renjeng Su, professor and former Dean of Maseeh College, says, “Even more impressive than Lauren’s outstanding academic performance was her effort to reach out to and help her peers. Lauren plays a valuable role in making the engineering field welcoming to women.”

She continues to give back to Portland State students today. Lauren serves on PSU’s ECE Industrial Advisory Board, where she works to draw more women into the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science. She was a panelist in a series of events for the department’s Women in ECE Night. Lauren states the goal of these events is to boost the number of women in ECE by connecting students with professional women engineers, “Being in a room of women who all are pursuing, or have completed, degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering where we could discuss our common experiences was cathartic and encouraging, and reinvigorated the inspiration that led me towards STEM in the first place.” She looks forward to representing PSU as a panelist at the LSAMP Conference at University of Washington in winter, 2019.

Lauren was recently honored with the Daily Journal of Commerce Women of Vision award, an award that recognizes women in the building industry for their mentorship and community outreach roles.

She has been working in the electrical engineering field since graduating and recently took her professional engineering (PE) exam. “I had to put in a lot of time and energy to pass the exam and was really proud to have passed it. It was the culmination of a decade of hard work.” Lauren’s continued perseverance illustrates there are opportunities for women and underrepresented people in STEM, and it is her goal to be a resource and role model for anyone ready to start forging their own path.

Learn more about how you can apply to PSU and become a student in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Sciences.

DJC Women of Vision award for making engineering field more welcoming to women.
Lauren accepting the DJC Women of Vision award.

Upcoming Events: February 2019

Students attending an event at PSU

At PSU this February, students are challenged to get active and stretch out those stiff winter muscles. Here are some event highlights happening in February. For a more comprehensive list, check out the PSU events calendar.


Super Bowl Watch Party

Sunday, 3 | 3:30-7:30 p.m. | Rec Center Sports Office
Join Campus Rec to watch the Super Bowl and enjoy free food. The event is free for all Campus Rec members (all PSU students are members) and $7 for non-members.

Noon Concert Series

Every Thursday | 12:00-1:00 p.m. | Lincoln Recital Hall
This weekly concert series is hosted by the PSU School of Music. At these events, students, faculty and guest artists will perform various instruments and music genres. The concerts are always free and open to the public. View their performance calendar.

Oregon Humanities Conversation Project: Can We Get Along?

Thursday, 7 | 10:00-11:30 a.m. | SMSU 209
Chisao Hata will facilitate a discussion on race, perspectives and cultural values, considering what brings people together and what separates them. This is a free event hosted by Oregon Humanities.

Career Workshop: Writing Resumes & Cover Letters

Thursday, 7 | 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. | ACS Office, USB 402
Advising & Career Services (ACS) hosts frequent Career Workshops throughout the year. This free workshop will help students write effective resumes and cover letters targeted to specific jobs. For more career-related events, review the ACS calendar.

Light Up Recreation (Portland Winter Light Festival)

Friday, 8 | 6:00-10:00 p.m. | Peter W. Stott Community Field
Light up the night in this interactive installation. Visitors will glow while they play games and do activities, with something for every age and ability. This free event is hosted by Campus Rec as a part of the 4th annual Portland Winter Light Festival, a city-wide event showcasing illuminated art and performances.

Nepalese Cultural Night

Friday, 15 | 5:00-9:00 p.m. | Smith Memorial Student Union 101
Celebrate Nepali culture and connect with community at PSU and beyond at this free event, hosted by the Nepalese Student Association. There will be free food, raffles and cultural performances. Nabin Dhimal, who was featured on our blog, will be officiating the event!

Splash Mob: PRIDE

Friday, 22 | 5:00-7:00 p.m. | Rec Center Pool
Trans, genderqueer and all body-positive people are invited to Open Rec Swim. Test your balance on the log roll, play water basketball, swim laps, relax in the spa and more. Free food and inner tubes will be provided. The event is free for all Campus Rec members (all PSU students are members) and $7 for non-members.

Vikings Sports

Vikings Basketball and Tennis have games going on all month. Check out the PSU Vikings event calendar for a detailed schedule.

Overcoming Barriers to Become a Leader

For many people, getting a degree can seem just out of reach. This can be especially true for low-income, immigrant and first-generation college students.

Nabin Dhimal fits all of these descriptions. Despite many challenges, he graduated from Portland State in 2018, with a degree in Social Science and a double minor in Sociology and Psychology. But that wasn’t enough for Nabin—he’s currently pursuing a Master’s at PSU in Educational Leadership and Policy through the College of Education.

Nabin was just one of more than 100,000 Nepali-speaking Bhutanese living in refugee camps in Nepal. The “One Nation, One People” policy in Bhutan forced the Nepali-speaking Lhotshampas to dress, speak and act like the majority Drukpas culture. Lhotshampas who protested this ethnic cleansing were imprisoned and tortured. Eventually, the majority of Lhotshampas were forced out of Bhutan into Nepal, and Nabin’s family was part of that group.

“My family lived in Bhutan for six generations,” says Nabin. “The government would select Lhotshampas to leave, accusing them, saying they weren’t Bhutanese, in order to split up families. My father was selected. If you refused to leave, they would attack or imprison you, sometimes even burn your house down. My whole family fled together.”

The Nepali government refused to integrate the Lhotshampas and allow them to work, so they were stuck living in a refugee camp for 18 years. Nabin was born in that camp. “I was fortunate because we were not bombed or shot at in the refugee camp, but there were very few resources to go around. We had no documents to work and no money. At six, I started working as a cashier in a food truck to make enough money to buy my own school supplies and watch DVDs on a small battery-powered TV.”

One of Nabin’s biggest joys growing up was school. “When I was five, I followed my siblings to school. I wanted to go to school so bad. My uncle broke the law by telling the school I was a year older so I could go. I loved learning, but there were few resources or qualified teachers. There were 50-60 students in each class, and we only had outdated, used textbooks. There were no opportunities for you to pursue a higher education.”

To escape these circumstances, Nabin and his family emigrated in 2008 with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the leading inter-governmental organization that helps migrants in need. IOM placed Nabin and his family in the United States, and they have lived in Oregon since. “Coming to the U.S. was hard at first. We didn’t know any Nepali people in Portland, and my extended family was placed in other states and countries. We used to be only five minutes away. Life is much easier for people who have an education, especially for people living in the United States—you can learn the language and get good jobs.”

“School is a privilege. I wanted to break the cycle of poverty and set an example for people in my community by earning a degree.”

In high school, Nabin started thinking about how he could make this happen, but finding the support he needed was difficult. “I think people expected me to go to community college because of negative perceptions of English language learners. I didn’t want to go far from home, so I could still support my family. My Speech and Debate coach, Patrick Gonzales, saw I had potential and encouraged me to apply to PSU.”

But paying for college was still a major concern for Nabin. He applied for the Diversity Scholarship, a program that promotes diversity and student participation at PSU. This scholarship awards a renewable tuition remission to students in financial need from diverse backgrounds. Not only did the scholarship help him afford to go to school full time but it got him involved with people from other cultures and marginalized communities.

Portland State offers many other Multicultural Retention Services for students like Nabin to help them achieve their goals. “TRIO reached out to me the summer before school started. They let me know about the programs and resources available. I took Summer Bridge, a class for TRIO students before the term starts. I learned how to find classrooms on campus, use the PSU Library and navigate D2L, PSU’s online learning platform,” says Nabin. TRIO is a program that provides educational opportunities to help students overcome barriers to higher education, like ethnic background or economic circumstance.

TRIO was the first place Nabin went when he was struggling with classes. “Andrea Griggs, my TRIO advisor, connected me to academic support on campus. But she totally changed my path when she helped me realize I needed to change my major. I wanted a major that would allow me to fight for equity and uplift others in underserved communities. I decided a degree in Social Sciences was the right path.”

Though he didn’t realize it at first, the challenging ideas he was exposed to in his Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) class would change his career goals. “I took a race and social justice themed FRINQ class, and it ended up being my favorite class. It made me aware of a lot of systemic issues.” Freshman and Sophomore Inquiry classes are part of PSU’s unique University Studies program, which uses theme-based classes and an interdisciplinary approach to get students involved with peers and the larger Portland community.

It didn’t take long for Nabin to be a force for positive change.

Nabin began working as a Peer Mentor in the Diversity Scholarship program, serving as a resource for other students. He realized that if he was going to make getting an education more equitable, he needed to earn a graduate degree. With the support of TRIO, his advisor and faculty, Nabin applied to PSU’s Educational Leadership & Policy program. Now, he’s working toward his Master’s degree and is specializing in Leadership for Sustainability Education.

Nabin helps prospective international students in PSU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. He’s also a Career Coach for NW Promise at IRCO, a nonprofit immigrant and refugee organization dedicated helping underserved students earn college credit and get into high-paying careers.

Nabin’s next goal is to earn a Ph.D and work in an educational nonprofit, where he can challenge policies to be more equitable. “I want to be that lens, looking at the education system to see if it’s serving different populations of students as well as it should.”

Nabin has one important piece of advice for low-income, immigrant and first-generation students: “Find out what resources are available to you and use them. PSU has a diverse student body and wants to make getting a degree accessible to everyone. The more people from diverse backgrounds successfully completing college means more influence to make the policy changes that will better serve those populations.”

Read more about Nabin’s background and immigration story.

Check out our blog all about the Multicultural Retention Services at PSU.

Nabin speaking about education at IYLC
Nabin served as the keynote speaker at the annual International Youth Leadership Conference (IYLC).

Snow at PSU

Snow Sculpture

All Portlanders have their fingers crossed that we won’t get another snow storm like 2016, which is still referred to as the “Snowpocalypse.” Even though snow in Portland is uncommon—the campus has only been closed a few times over the years—it’s important for PSU students to know how to deal with snow if it happens.

PSU Alert

PSU’s first priority is keeping students safe. If the weather conditions make getting to and from campus dangerous, PSU will close for part of the day or completely, canceling classes and events. Notification of closures will be posted to the website, notified to the media and sent through the PSU Alert system to all students, faculty and staff. The PSU Alert system will send you updates through the contact information you provide in Banweb (PSU’s information system where students find their records, register for classes and manage their financial aid information), so make sure your information and contact preferences are up to date.

Class Cancellations

Keep an eye on the weather reports and check your pdx.edu email frequently.  Even if PSU does not close, some professors cancel class preemptively or because they can’t make it to campus. If campus is open, but you can’t make it to class safely, contact your professor ASAP—professors will accommodate students who miss class because of the weather. You should prioritize your safety and comfort over getting to class. Check out PSU’s list of emergency and public safety resources.

Transportation

Stay off the roads by taking public transit. Inclement weather can cause the transit to run behind, but the Portland’s public transit is so extensive that it can help get you to class and back home safely. Check out our blog all about TriMet’s public transit options.

The Campus Public Safety office stays open during closures, so you can reach out to them for help.

 

New Student Guide to Portland Transit

The beauty of Portland State’s location in the center of one of the best cities for public transportation in the U.S. is that students have easy and affordable access to all that Portland has to offer. And Portland’s public transit system (TriMet) is not limited to downtown, but stretches far and wide—from Forest Park to the Portland International Airport to the many towns surrounding Portland. With all of the buses, the trains and even a bike sharing system, PSU students can get around without the hassle or expense of a car.

TriMet is an easy system to use, but it can be confusing at first. That’s why we’ve compiled everything PSU students should know about TriMet and the transportation options in the Portland metro area.

Transportation Options

PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services is an excellent source of information. Check out their outline of all the ways new students can get to campus.

By Car

Commuting by car can be the most expensive transportation option—since PSU is located in downtown Portland, parking is extremely limited. PSU has a variety of parking permit options.

  • Carpooling: Students can reduce costs and emissions by carpooling, signing up for a Carpool Permit or sharing rides with Drive Less Connect (a free service offered by the State of Oregon that helps coordinate carpooling).
  • Carsharing: Students can use car-sharing services rather than own their own cars. Zipcar has nearly 30 cars, trucks and vans available for rent by the hour, day or weekend. PSU students are eligible for discounted membership. Car2Go and ReachNow also provide on-demand carshare vehicles in Portland.

TriMet

TriMet provides bus, light rail and commuter rail service in the Portland metro region. TriMet’s transportation options connect people with their community, while easing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution—making the region a better place to live.

  • Buses: TriMet offers almost 80 bus lines, with many buses running every 15 minutes or less during most of the day. There are multiple bus lines with stops at PSU.
  • MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) Light Rail: Like the buses and streetcar, the MAX lines run frequently throughout the day. The five color-coded MAX lines connect the far corners of Portland and surrounding suburbs. There are even convenient park and ride locations that make it easy to drive part way and hop on the MAX, enabling commuters to avoid the struggle of limited downtown parking. The Orange Milwaukie line, Yellow Expo Center line and Green Clackamas Town Center line make stops at the South end of campus and at Urban Center. Riders can connect to the Blue Hillsboro/Gresham line and Red Beaverton/Airport line just North of campus.

Streetcar

Portland Streetcar: This streetcar system offers two loop routes around downtown Portland, with streetcars running both clockwise and counterclockwise. The Portland Streetcar runs through the center of PSU campus, including stops in the Urban Center Plaza and Park Blocks. The Portland Streetcar is FREE to all PSU students—the PSU ID card is valid fare.

Other Transportation

BIKETOWN: This bike-sharing program has 1,000 bikes at over 100 stations around Portland available for rent. PSU students get 90 minutes of ride time on BIKETOWN bikes per day FREE. To take advantage of this, students must sign up for a PSU Student Plan.

Portland Aerial Tram: This tram is as much a tourist destination as it is practical transportation, carrying riders 500 feet above the city with breathtaking views. It connects the South Waterfront district to the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus.

LIFT Paratransit Service: TriMet offers shared-ride public transportation services for people with a disability or disabling health condition that makes them unable to use regular buses or trains. Rides are arranged in advance by reservation.

WES (Westside Express Service) Commuter Rail: Unlike the MAX, this rail line only serves commuters West of the Willamette (Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville), running during morning and afternoon rush hours every 30 minutes.

Cost

The TriMet system allows people to ride all buses, Streetcar, MAX and WES with a single valid TriMet fare. Individual adult tickets can be purchased at $2.50 for 2.5 hours or $5.00 for all day.

The TriMet Hop card allows riders to tap their card on the green Hop reader when they get on. The Hop card charges riders and keeps track of their fares—Hop card users never pay more than a day pass in a day or month pass in a month ($100 per month). A monthly pass is also valid on the Aerial Tram. The Honored Citizen Hop card gives reduced fare to low-income riders, seniors and riders with disabilities. Honored Citizens pay up to 50% less than standard adult fare.

The Hop card can be purchased and reloaded at hundreds of local stores, including supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores. They can also be reloaded online or by app, making them convenient and easy to use. Android users can also download a virtual Hop card, so they can tap their phone on the Hop reader to purchase fare. The TriMet Tickets app allows users to purchase single day tickets on their phone.

PSU students can also get the Student FlexPass, a reduced-rate, quarterly transit pass valid on all TriMet buses, MAX trains, Streetcars, WES train, Aerial Tram and C-Tran local bus services (buses running in Clark County, Washington, and into Portland). The 3-month FlexPass costs $174, compared to $100 per month for public TriMet rate. The pass is a sticker applied directly to the PSU ID. The FlexPass, unlike the Hop card, is not scanned when riders enter transit, it just needs to be displayed to show valid fare.

Navigating

The PSU Campus Map is a good place to start to get a sense for the transit options and where they stop on campus.

Google Maps is an excellent app to use in determining your the best route to campus. It has fairly up-to-date arrival times and allows for trip customization, like prioritizing shortest walking distance or fewest transfers.

TriMet has an extensive list of third-party apps that can help show real-time arrivals and plan trips.

The BIKETOWN app allows users to find bike stations and pay as they ride—remember PSU students get 90 minutes per day free.

Tips and Tricks

TriMet buses often have many small stops along their routes, so they do not announce every stop. Riders unfamiliar with the area may find it helpful to watch their movement and track stops on a map app or tell the bus driver where they want to get off.

Bus drivers check fares as riders get on, but there is no consistent system for checking fares on MAX and Portland Streetcars. Transit police officers periodically check fares and issue warnings, citations and exclusions for riders without a valid fare, so riders should remember to always have valid fare on them.

Most of Portland’s public transit does not run between midnight and 5 a.m., so riders should make sure to understand the schedules and know how they will get to their destination ahead of time.  

TriMet periodically offers free transit rides and extended late-night hours on holidays to keep Portlanders safe, so stay informed about these offers by following TriMet on Twitter.

Check out PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services to learn more.