Social Security funds will run out; Opportunity Grants help students and make state stronger

Social Security funds will run out

Per the 2008 Trustees report, the Social Security/Disability Insurance outgo will start to exceed income in 18 years and the fund will be exhausted in 32 years. As for Medicare Part A, it's projected to be exhausted in 10 years (B & D rates will continue to increase).

Per the report, "A more immediate issue is the growing burden that the programs will place on the Federal budget well before the trust funds are exhausted" [for complex reasons].

Look on ssa.gov for the 2009 Trustees report due out soon.

Jo W. French, Sr.

Ashland

Opportunity Grants help students and make state stronger

During the 2007 Legislative Session, students of higher education from around the state of Oregon lobbied in Salem to have the Shared Responsibility Model of the Oregon Opportunity Grant funded at more than double its previous level. The Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) is Oregon's only need-based aid program, and therefore this was a monumental move for our state.

The Shared Responsibility Model acknowledges that even with reasonable work hours, moderate loans, grants and parent/family contribution, there is still an affordability gap for higher education. That gap is where the Oregon Opportunity Grant comes in. The OOG helps the state take some of the responsibility to help ensure that students in post-secondary education are able to afford their educations.

In recent times, this need has increased exponentially. Post-secondary education in Oregon is in higher demand than ever before. With the current economic climate, more and more people are turning to post-secondary education. The average age of a FAFSA applicant is 28 and the age group with the largest increase in FAFSA applications is 30 to 34 year olds. These applicants are often part of working families who need to go back to school in order to compete in the current competitive job market.

This is the time when hard-working Oregonians need the OOG the most.

Funding the higher education of Oregonians makes Oregon's economic future stronger. We are asking the legislature to uphold the Governor's recommended budget and to continue to prioritize the Shared Responsibility Model. This will make college more affordable and put Oregonians back to work.

In order to put Oregon back on track, we must prioritize Oregon students of higher education.

Taylor York

Senate President Pro-Tempore

Associated Students of Southern Oregon University