Know Your Dates: Freshmen

Of all 365 days in the year, there are some that tend to carry more weight. You’ve got your birthday (that’s a big one), the first day of summer (can’t forget that), and of course 7/11’s Free Slurpee Day (we know that’s really important).

At PSU, we can think of a few more. The college application process can be confusing—so many dates and deadlines swirling around. But we will make it easy.

We’ve compiled a list of all the dates you should have on your calendar. Save them in your phone now (or on paper, if you’re old school).


AUGUST 1

The PSU Admissions Application is available! This is where it all begins. We start accepting applications early so you can have as much time as possible to complete yours. Even though the deadline seems far away now, it will sneak up on you. You should get a head start on your application, so you can focus on connecting with an advisor, deciding where you’ll live and figuring out how you’ll pay for college.

OCTOBER 1

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available. This is the form that lets you know what financial aid options you are eligible for—you’ll also need to fill out a FAFSA in order to submit a scholarship application at PSU. This is a crucial step in getting the money you need to pay for college. When you fill out a FAFSA, remember to add PSU as one of your colleges.

The PSU Scholarship Application. If you haven’t already started your Scholarship Application, now is the time. The scholarships have different requirements, like essays and references, so you won’t be able to wait until the last minute to complete it. Apply early so you can be sure you get the most money possible to help pay for college.

DECEMBER 1

Your Honors College Application. This is a priority deadline for freshmen. Students who apply by the priority deadline will get an Honors College admission decision by March 1. Though this is not a hard deadline, applying after December 1 makes students far less likely to get Honors scholarships.

FEBRUARY 1

Your PSU Scholarship Application, essays and references. This is a hard deadline, so you must get all your documents in by February 1. Get started early!

The FAFSA. We have a rolling deadline for FAFSA, but like all parts of the application process, it’s best to do this early. February 1 is also the deadline to submit the FAFSA to be eligible for Four Years Free (Oregon residents only).

Last day to apply to PSU to be eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Luckily, there is no separate application required—you will automatically be considered for WUE when you turn in your PSU Admissions Application.

Admitted Student Reception sign ups open!

The hard part’s done, but once you get an admission decision, there are a few important dates you’ll need to know!

APRIL 1

New Student Orientation sign ups open. We recommend signing up for Orientation as early as possible. To gain access to sign ups, you’ll have to confirm your enrollment.

MAY 1

Last day to apply to PSU to be considered for Four Years Free (Oregon residents only). There’s no separate application—you will be automatically considered when you submit your Admissions Application.

Confirm your enrollment to PSU. May 1 is National College Decision Day, so students all around the country are making the big decision about where they will attend college. Apply early so you have enough time to weigh your options and make the choice that’s right for you. As soon as you confirm your enrollment, you can sign up for New Student Orientation and start preparing for your first term as a PSU Viking!

Apply for on-campus housing during your first year. This is the final deadline.

AUGUST 1

Final high school transcripts are due.

YOU’RE DONE!

Now you can sit back, relax and take a big sigh of relief. As long as you start early, completing your PSU application is painless. Applying to PSU is quick and easy because we do not require an essay or letters of recommendation!

Review PSU’s freshman admissions requirements.

Know Your Dates: Transfer

Alright, you’ve made up your mind. You’re going to transfer to PSU and finish your degree. It’s time to start getting your application together. We know at times the process can be confusing, so we’ll go through each important date and deadline to explain what is needed from you.

Let’s get started!


AUGUST 1

The PSU Admissions Application is available! We begin accepting applications early because we want you to have the most time to submit your application. We get it—life happens, but remember, if you can get your application submitted early, then you can focus on connecting with an advisor, deciding where you’ll live and figuring out how you’ll pay for college.

OCTOBER 1

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available. This is the form that lets you know what financial aid options you are eligible for—you’ll also need to fill out a FAFSA in order to submit a scholarship application at PSU. This is a crucial step in getting the money you need to pay for college. When you fill out a FAFSA, remember to add PSU as one of your colleges.  

The PSU Scholarship Application. If you haven’t already started your Scholarship Application, now is the time. The scholarships have different requirements, like essays and references, so you won’t be able to wait until the last minute to complete it. Apply early so you can be sure you get the most money possible to help pay for college.

FEBRUARY 1

Your PSU Scholarship Application, essays and references. This is a hard deadline, so you must get all your documents in.

Your Honors College Application. This is a priority deadline for transfers. However, after February 1 students are far less likely to get honors scholarships.

The FAFSA. We have a rolling deadline for FAFSA, but like all parts of the application process, it’s best to do this early.

Last day to apply to PSU to be eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Luckily, there is no separate application required—you will automatically be considered for WUE when you turn in your PSU Admissions Application.

Admitted Student Reception sign ups open!

The hard part’s done, but once you get an admission decision there are a few important dates you’ll need to know!

APRIL 1

New Student Orientation sign ups open. We recommend signing up for Orientation as early as possible. To gain access to sign ups, you’ll have to confirm your enrollment.

MAY 1

Confirm your enrollment to PSU. May 1 is National College Decision Day, so students all around the country are making the big decision about where they will attend college. Apply early so you have enough time to weigh your options and make the choice that’s right for you. As soon as you confirm your enrollment, you can sign up for New Student Orientation and start preparing for your first term as a PSU Viking!

Apply for on-campus housing. This is the final deadline.

JUNE 1

Last day to apply to PSU to be considered for Transfers Finish Free. There’s no separate application—you will be automatically considered when you submit your Admissions Application.

AUGUST 1

Final high school transcripts are due.

YOU’RE DONE!

Whew. We know, it’s a lot, but if you start early it’s a breeze. Applying to PSU is quick and easy because we do not require an essay or letters of recommendation!

Review PSU’s transfer admissions requirements.

Pell Grant Review

Three students thinking about their future.

Figuring out how you will pay for college is stressful and exhausting. There are many funding opportunities, and it’s difficult to determine what you qualify for and how to apply. The Pell Grant, a federally-funded grant, is an excellent source of money for students with high financial need. In order to get the Pell Grant you must fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We recommend completing the FAFSA ASAP so you don’t have to worry about it later.

Over 8,500 students attending PSU received the Pell Grant in 2016-17 academic year.

So, what is a grant? Unlike loans, grants are not expected to be paid back. That’s free money to help you achieve your education goals! And unlike other federal student aid, the Pell Grant can be used to cover more than just tuition and fees, like books, transportation, housing and other living expenses.

How to Apply

First, complete the FAFSA! Remember to add PSU as one of your colleges when you fill out the FAFSA (if you’ve already submitted it, you can go back in and add us).

The amount you can receive with the Pell Grant is based on financial need, cost of enrollment, and the length of time you will be in college. The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2018-19 academic year is $6,095 (this amount changes each year). If you’re not ready to complete the FAFSA, you can still estimate your Pell Grant award with the FAFSA4caster.

Check out our blog post dedicated to demystifying the FAFSA.

Eligibility

The Pell Grant provides funding for students to get their education. Here are the eligibility factors:

  • Financial need: Financial need is calculated based on cost of attendance and Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is not a number you have to come up with on your own—it’s calculated when you fill out the FAFSA. Once you complete the FAFSA, it will tell you (and PSU, if you add PSU as one of your schools) if you are eligible.
  • Enrollment: You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment at a participating institution—PSU is one!
  • Student status: You must have earned a high school diploma, completed an approved home-school education through the high school level or earned a GED. You must also be an undergraduate student who has not yet earned a bachelor’s, associate or professional degree.
  • Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.

* Undocumented students cannot receive federal grants, but they can receive state grants by filling out the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA).

Other Ways PSU Is Making College Affordable

Pell Grant eligible students may be able to defer their application fee, meaning they can apply to PSU and pay the fee on their first tuition bill. Students who are Pell Grant eligible are often eligible for other funding programs through PSU, including:  

  • Four Years Free: PSU will cover standard tuition and mandatory fees for the first four years for income-eligible Oregon freshmen.
  • Transfers Finish Free: PSU will cover standard tuition and mandatory fees for income-eligible Oregon transfers.

Our goal is to have students graduate on time with as little debt as possible. So if you qualify for the Pell Grant, don’t forget to check out other scholarships we offer.

You can always contact us for more information about the Pell Grant and other sources of funding.

Winning with WUE

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) is a decades-old program that aims to make colleges such as Portland State, more affordable for nonresidents. Qualifying students pay 150% of in-state tuition. Resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the course of your degree. And the best part—all students are automatically considered for WUE if they apply to PSU by February 1.

Portland State University is proud to be the only research university in Oregon that participates in the WUE program.

Cost of Annual Tuition and Fees at 15 Credits Per Term (2018-19)

In-State WUE Out-of-State
$9,223 $13,107*  $27,437

*Does not include room and board, books or personal expenses.

What Is It Like Being a WUE Student?

Right now, there are over 2,000 WUE students attending PSU, 1,728 who entered as freshmen and 323 who entered as transfers. Students from almost every WUE locale attend PSU, our largest groups coming from California and Washington. But those are just the numbers. We asked Fernando Gomez, new transfer from Arizona studying film, what his WUE experience has been like.

“I found out about WUE after I was accepted to PSU. I got a call from one of the admissions counselors, who told me I qualified. I’ve always been a full-time student, so it’s necessary for me to find ways to pay for school. I knew I wanted to attend PSU, so WUE was just a bonus!”

Because Portland is a cultural hub, students have easy access to many events. Just hop on the amazing public transit from campus—the Portland Streetcar is free to students—and get anywhere in Portland in no time. “Living on campus puts me right in the center of the city, which makes it possible for me to pursue my passions on and off campus.”

Fernando is excited that WUE is helping him afford college in a city that allows him to work toward his dream career. “The weather is cool, the city is culturally diverse, and it’s cheaper than all the other big cities that would allow me to pursue my film studies.” PSU’s Film Program, the most comprehensive film program in the Northwest, is always pushing Fernando to get involved. “PSU has great equipment available for students. There are also lots of companies in Portland that offer internships to PSU students, so they can get hands-on experience.”

WUE is just the ticket to get the out-of-state college experience without paying those prices.

Eligibility

  1. Apply for fall term by the WUE deadline: February 1 is the deadline for both freshmen and transfer students.
  2. Be a legal resident of one of the following states or territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  3. Meet PSU’s academic requirements for WUE:
    • Freshmen Academic Requirements: 3.5 cumulative unweighted high school GPA or 1270 SAT or 27 ACT composite
    • Transfer Academic Requirements: 3.0 cumulative college GPA

Learn more about WUE

Understanding Financial Aid

Why sugarcoat it? College is expensive and financial aid can be confusing. But rather than thinking of it as an expense, it may more be more useful to think about it as an investment in your future. 

But investments still need funding.

And while PSU is Oregon’s most affordable public university, 60% of PSU students receive some kind of financial aid during their undergrad.

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about financial aid because PSU’s scholarship applications and FAFSA have just opened for the 2019-20 academic year.

So what is financial aid? To put it simply, financial aid is any money not provided by you or your family that helps you pay for college. This money can cover anything from tuition and student fees to housing, food, books and transportation. If you need it to succeed in school, financial aid can cover it.

There are multiple ways to receive financial aid ranging from university scholarships to federal loans, but it all starts with filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is your key to making college more affordable. Check out our special blog post dedicated to deciphering the FAFSA for all the details.

Let’s take a closer look at the financial aid offered at Portland State, and what they mean for you.


Scholarships

PSU offers nearly 450 scholarships every year to students from all backgrounds! These scholarships range from awards based on academics to athletics to activism, and they can be used to pay tuition, student fees, housing and much more. Scholarships are not loans, and thus never need to be paid back to the university. It’s essentially free money. You heard that right. Free. Money.

PSU’s General Scholarship Application is due by February 1, so check out our detailed list of all university scholarships. Every scholarship is different, and some require letters of recommendation, writing samples and other supplemental materials, so start the application process early to ensure you will get yours in on time.

There are also a lot of national scholarships not specific to Portland State. For more information on these scholarships, visit the PSU scholarships home page.

Federal Grants

Many universities (PSU included) receive grants from the Federal Government that they can use to help students pay for college. These grants are split up into two categories: need-based and merit-based. Like scholarships, federal grants do not require to be repaid. More. Free. Money.

The most common federal grant is the Pell Grant. Pell Grants are need-based financial awards that are distributed to students based on the information provided in their FAFSA. To be considered for federal grants, you only need to fill out your FAFSA. When your FAFSA information is processed, you will be notified if you are eligible for federal grants. Learn more about federal grants and see the list of awards available.  

Student Loans

Unlike federal grants or scholarships, student loans (from either the federal government or private companies) are expected to be repaid. The amount of student loans you are eligible to receive is based, like all things financial, on the information you provide in your FAFSA.

It is important to only take out loans for what you think you will need, and no more. If you have questions about applying for or accepting student loans, feel free to reach out to the Financial Wellness Center and learn more about their services in our Resource Breakdown. Prospective students and their families are welcome.

You do not pay back student loans while you are a student. Instead, you begin paying for them roughly about six months after the final term you are in school.


Finding out how you are going to pay for college can be a complicated process, but there is a network of support at PSU. Through the Office of Financial Aid and Financial Wellness Center, there are always professionals excited to help you navigate the cost of college.

So feel free to drop by and introduce yourself or shoot us an email. No question is too small, and we want you to succeed.

Browse the PSU Scholarship Database!

Demystifying the FAFSA

Figuring out how you’ll pay for college can be overwhelming. Turns out, there’s a lot of money available for your higher education. The best place to start on your financial aid journey is with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). It’s best to go straight to the source when you want the facts, so we’ve compiled a few resources from the experts to help you learn more about your financial aid options and get some answers about the FAFSA.

Get an Overview of the FAFSA

The FAFSA Process

Completing the FAFSA is the first step in accessing the more than $150 billion available in federal student aid. To help you with your FAFSA, they have created a handy guide that walks you through each part in the process.

Get More Answers from Federal Student Aid (An Office of the US Department of Education)

To apply for federal student aid, you need to complete the FAFSA. If you’d like more information first, Federal Student Aid can help. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and quick, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school. In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA data to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.

Follow Federal Student Aid on Twitter and Facebook to get important updates and answers to frequently asked questions.

Fill out the FAFSA

Built Around You: PSU’s Rolling Admissions Deadline

Getting sick, landing a new job, moving across the country or even across the street — not everything sticks to a tight schedule.

So why should your college admissions application?

We understand that sometimes life happens, and to accommodate we have a rolling deadline for admission here at PSU. That means that though we have a few firm deadlines — scholarship availability, on-campus housing, and eligibility for WUE, Four Years Free and Transfers Finish Free — applications for admissions are accepted nearly year-round.

Though we have a rolling admissions deadline it’s important to remember that the earlier you apply the more likely you are to get into certain courses and receive PSU-specific scholarships (deadlines for which are always in the fall term).

So, what are the perks of a rolling admissions deadline?

  • You hear back fast. We know how stressful it can be to wait. Our submission window means that before the priority deadlines (Dec. 1 for Freshman and Feb. 1 For Transfers) you’ll hear from us in about two weeks! Even past those deadlines you can expect a response in less than a month. 
  • Always accessible. Our rolling application deadline means that you can apply early or late in the admissions process. Want to apply a year in advance of your start term? Perfect. What about just a few months before? Works for us. All we care about is you applying and getting one step closer to that dream career.
  • Immediate action. A rolling application process means that your applications is looked at as soon as it is received by our admissions team. This means a faster response and an almost immediate notification if your application is missing any components. We want you to have the most possible time to get everything together before any financial aid deadlines.

At PSU, supporting our students and prospective students is the number one priority, and our rolling admissions deadline ensures that applicants have ample time to apply and get into college. You want to make a difference, and our job is to help make that happen.

*Did you know that students interested in transferring to PSU don’t have to finish up their summer term before applying? You can apply while taking classes at another institution and submit transcripts later! Just another way PSU makes applying easy.

Review our admissions requirements and priority deadlines (used for determining financial aid awards) and submit your application today. Or tomorrow. Whenever works for you. But you know what they say, there’s no time like the present.

The Easiest Way to Save Money: Graduate On Time

We know there’s more than one way to pursue college.

For some, the route leads them right from high school into a four year school. There are also those who enroll in community college with the goal of transferring to finish their bachelor’s degree.

Each path has their pros and cons, but they all share a common goal: getting a bachelor’s degree as fast as possible.

Studies from The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center have shown that students who start at a four-year college as a freshman are more likely to graduate on time.

Here’s what’s so great about graduating in four years:

1.  You also will save money. That same study showed that students who stay in school for more than four years can end up paying up to 40% more. Yikes! Surely transferring from a community college is more economical? Well, it is and it isn’t. Let me explain. Although Oregon Promise, and other state-sponsored programs like it, can help ease the cost of the first two years of your bachelor’s degree at a community college, transfer students tend to fall behind when coming to a four-year university. Sometimes credits don’t transfer over perfectly, or maybe it’s just problems with adjusting to a new school, but it all means taking more time to graduate, and that can cost a lot.

Plus, PSU now offers programs to help you graduate in four years if you enroll as a freshman.

  • Four-Year Degree Guarantee means that, if you meet the eligibility requirements, you will graduate in four years or we will pay for any extra courses you have to take.
  • You could even go to PSU for free. You heard that right. If you are an Oregon resident and you meet the eligibility requirements PSU will pay for your tuition and fees for four years.
  • PSU offers scholarships, work study and financial aid to those who qualify, all of which can help to ease the cost of college.
  • PSU’s Diversity and Multicultural Student Services offer amazing retention programs for students in their first year at PSU to help in the transition from high school to college and they provide scholarships!

    2.  You get to start your career sooner, and start making an impact. Evelynn Moz, a recent PSU graduate, was able to work while attending PSU, knowing that she would still graduate on time. Now she’s ready to take on the world as the International Merchandising Coordinator at Columbia Sportswear.

3.  Getting started at a four years college means you’ll be able to develop relationships early on with our expert faculty and staff. You’ll get to take advantage of our incredible University Studies program which helps you engage in the community and get real-world experience for the start. If you’re interested in joining the Honors College, then doing so as early as possible is the best option. You’ll get the most out of it and have a lot more to show for it when you graduate.

But what about the cost?

Choosing a college is a big choice, we get it, and regardless of where you go, it’s going to be expensive. At PSU though, what you are paying for is an investment, something that will allow you to thrive after you graduate. 

Learn about ways PSU can help you graduate in just four years!

5 Reasons You Should get an On-Campus Job

With classes, homework and extracurriculars, it might seem like college is too busy to have a part-time job. However, most jobs on campus are built to work alongside your school schedule, and can be an amazing opportunity to build your resume, gain professional references, and of course, make a little extra money for coffee, donuts and pizza. You know, essentials.

Here’s our top five reasons you should consider getting an on-campus job.


1. A school-friendly schedule

Campus employers understand that you are a student first and an employee second. This means that they are flexible, making sure that you aren’t working during classes or on especially busy weeks like midterms or finals.

2. Opportunity for relevant experience

There are lots of opportunities for students to work on-campus in organizations that reflect their interests. Criminal Justice major? Campus Public Safety is hiring. Health Studies? The Rec Center is almost entirely staffed by students. Qualified students can even become tutors, helping their fellow students in disciplines ranging from math to music.

3. Build a competitive resume

Having a part-time job during your undergrad is a great way to boost your resume and make your job search easier after graduation, especially if you worked with a department that shared your interests.

4. Gain professional references

Both your co-workers and supervisors can be great references for internships and careers after graduation. On-campus employers want to see you succeed, and are happy to help you realize your passions in any way they can.

5. Make good money

And, of course, having a part-time job means making extra money which you can put towards school…or, alternatively, more fun things. A relaxing trip to the coast perhaps? Maybe seats at Blazers game?


If you’re ready to see what part-time (and it will always be part-time, students are limited to 20 hours per week for on-campus jobs) opportunities are available on campus, visit Advising and Career Services, where a team of trained experts can help you land that perfect position!

Remember that an on-campus job is not the same as a Work Study Award. For more information on Work Study, visit the Office of Financial Aid.


A List of College Admissions Terms You Need to Know

At times, it can seem like colleges are speaking a foreign language.

Freshman, Honors, Transfer, Liberal Arts, Matriculate — Hold on a second, let’s back up.

We know that there is a lot of language that you may be unfamiliar with in the admissions process. And while it’s probably better than speaking in emojis, we understand that we may need to elaborate on a few of the terms we use.

Allow us to teach you how to speak college and understand the meaning of these important terms.


Undergraduate (Scrabble score: 16).

Any student at PSU who is in the process of earning their bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s (Scrabble score: 16).

The degree awarded to students after completing their undergraduate coursework. With PSU’s Four-Year Degree Guarantee, you can get your Bachelor’s Degree as quick as possible.

Liberal Arts (Scrabble score: 13).

A general term for academic subjects such as literature, philosophy, mathematics, and social and physical sciences.

Freshman (Scrabble score: 16).

A first-year student at a university. Freshman at PSU often live in on-campus housing, participate in Orientation and take Freshman Inquiry courses.

Transfer (Scrabble score: 11)

Any student who is taking undergraduate courses at PSU after participating in courses at another college or university after they have graduated from High School.  Note, we understand some High School students can take college classes while still in High School. Any current High School student applying for admission to PSU will be considered a “Freshman Applicant” regardless of how many college classes they will have taken prior to graduating from High School. That student may not be considered a Freshman once they matriculate (see below for definition) based on the number of college credits they transfer in.

Honors College (Scrabble score: 19).

An academically-intense course of study at PSU focused around community. Honors College applications are filled out separately and have different requirements.

Lower Division (Scrabble score: 20).

Classes offered at the freshman or sophomore level. Generally, lower-division classes will be in the 100-200 range and are often classes that prepare you for your intended major. All community college courses are considered lower division.

Upper Division (Scrabble score: 21).

Classes offered at the junior or senior level. Generally, upper-division classes will be in the 300-400 range and are often classes that delve specifically into specific topics relating to certain major programs.

Quarter (Scrabble score: 16).

PSU divides the school year up into quarters (sometimes called “terms”), rather than semesters. Each quarter you will take new classes. Most freshman start in the fall quarter and graduation takes place at the end of the spring quarter.

Fall Quarter: September – December
Winter Quarter: January – March
Spring Quarter: March – June
Summer Quarter (optional): June – September

Registrar (Scrabble score: 10).

The registrar’s office at PSU keeps track of all student records. The registrar is also where you can change your major, order official transcripts and register for classes.

Matriculate (Scrabble score: 15).

You’re in! To matriculate means to be fully admitted and enrolled at PSU!


Whew! That’s a lot, but now you should be armed with all the knowledge you need to attack the application process. And of course, if you see something you can’t quite decipher, you can always contact us at the Office of Admissions and we can help you out.