On February 19, Hermiston School District officially partnered with Oregon 529 College Savings Network, as its outreach director Mr. John Valley and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fred Maiocco introduced the “Be College Ready” program, supporting Oregon College Savings (Section 529) plans. Hermiston School District is working hard to create a college-going culture for the community of Hermiston. The goal is for every student to develop a plan for some kind of education and training past high school, whether that be a traditional university or 2 year community college, or a trade school, apprenticeship or other training opportunity.

Students in rural Oregon face three main barriers to attending and completing college: distance from college campuses, familiarity with the college culture, and the cost of higher education.

To address these issues, Hermiston is in its fifth year of “I’m going to college” and the second year of a collaboration with Eastern Oregon University called “Academic Momentum.” The latter is the 5th-8th grade component of Eastern Promise designed to increase a students’ predisposition toward college. Students learn about post-secondary schooling options, including trade schools, apprenticeships, community colleges, and universities. HSD has taken students on a field trip to a college campus, where they find out that continuing with their education beyond high school is not such a scary thing.

As a district, HSD works to provide, and have accessible, information about post-secondary options and career pathways through classroom lessons, school-wide activities, and district-wide events, such as the K-8 College and Career Family night on Thursday, February 19.

“We are also delighted to be working with the State Treasurer’s Office to offer various incentives and supports for the use of section 529 plans,” said Superintendent of School Dr. Fred Maiocco.

The hardest barrier to overcome for many families is the cost of college. To assist students and families, HSD provides comprehensive support, in cooperation with various volunteer organizations, to assist students in the preparation of various scholarship and grant applications. Families feel more at ease utilizing the district as a resource, at least initially, not having to worry about “being sold” something, as one might fear in approaching a personal investment banker.

Those interested in learning more about the Oregon College Savings program may click here.