Move over Congress: Portland State University unveils its own 'COVID Relief Package'

Portland State University unveiled its own "COVID Relief Package" as Congress debates its own bill.

PSU's package includes waived application fees, lower GPA standards, and expanded eligibility for its "Four Years Free" program.

In an effort to remove barriers to higher education, Portland State University will temporarily waive its application fee until June 15 and lower GPA requirements for three years. The GPA requirement will now be 2.5, significantly lowering standards for the university’s applicants. 

According to the Portland Business Journal, PSU Provost Susan Jeffords said in an announcement, “We’re here to be part of the recovery. This is our Covid Relief Package.”

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These decisions are a part of PSU’s “Open for Fall, Open for All” campaign that aims to make higher education available to a broader population. The campaign is part of an attempt to provide relief after the COVID-19 pandemic upended the lives of many students around the country. 

As a part of this campaign, the university will also expand eligibility for its “Four Years Free” program and offer more on-campus discounted housing only for “qualified low-income students.”

The PSU admissions website flaunts the slogan “No essays. No tests. No mystery.”

The program is intended to create “a more equitable and sustainable future for everyone,” PSU President Stephen Percy said. “PSU has always been about opportunity and social mobility and these changes support and broaden those values.”

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Since enrollment numbers are directly correlated to state funding, Portland State University has an incentive to keep application numbers high. The state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission determines the allocation of state funding based on a formula, which uses statistics related to enrollment. 

According to Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, enrollment at PSU has been declining for nearly a decade. In fall 2020, PSU had the second-largest drop in enrollment of all Oregon public universities -- 7.8 percent

Despite efforts to increase applications, enrollment at PSU is still expected to shrink for the next five years.

Portland State University did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. 

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