Adult Learners

Whether it is providing information on how to obtain your GED® certificate, improve your workplace development skills or enroll in college courses, the Office of Student Access and Completion has resources to help you complete your next educational goal. We recognize the challenges adult learners face and strive to provide support and resources to make the process more affordable and stress-free.

Who are adult learners?

Adult learners are known by a wide variety of names, including non-traditional students, adult students, returning adults, life-long learners, mature learners and many more. Such students have a wide variety of cultural and educational backgrounds, abilities, responsibilities and experiences.

No matter how different adult learners are, there are several defining characteristics that many of them share. When defining adult learners:

  • They are usually 25 or older.
  • They have delayed entering college for at least one year following high school.
  • They are usually employed full-time.
  • Often, they have a family to support.
  • They are looking to enhance their professional lives or may be switching careers.
  • They have more experience than traditional students, having already started a career or served in the military.

In addition to these shared traits, many adult learners also share common concerns and challenges that may be holding them back from pursuing the next step toward their educational goals:

  • They must balance a busy schedule that includes work, school and family responsibilities.
  • They may feel anxiety about going back to school.
  • They may be on a tighter budget than traditional students.
  • Because they usually commute, they need the flexibility to take classes on campus or online.

Financial Aid Resources and More

Oregon Financial Aid Opportunities:

In addition to federal financial aid opportunities and programs specific to each institution, Oregon residents, regardless of age, may be eligible for the following state financial aid programs, as long as they meet all other program requirements:

File your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or ORSAA (Oregon Student Aid Application).

Oregon Opportunity Grant
 – Oregon’s largest state-funded, need-based grant program that prioritizes the lowest-income Oregon students of all ages who attend eligible public and private Oregon colleges and universities. 

Oregon Promise Grant – Oregon’s state grant program that provides recent high school graduates and GED® test graduates grants that can be applied toward tuition at Oregon community colleges.

Oregon National Guard State Tuition Assistance – Provides funds for tuition at Oregon community colleges and public universities for current eligible service members of the Oregon National Guard and the Oregon Air National Guard.

Student Child Care Grant – Assists parents who are enrolled in postsecondary education in obtaining safe, dependable childcare while allowing completion of the parent’s academic programs.

OSAC Scholarships – more than 600 privately funded scholarships are available to Oregon students, to which you can apply through a central application portal.

For additional Oregon grant and scholarship programs, please visit this link.

If you have already completed an associate’s degree, certificate, or some college, here are tools for transfer students

For information on how to build upon your current skills, including GED® resources, apprenticeships and training opportunities, career pathways, veteran resources, dislocated worker programs, workforce needs and more, please visit the Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s “build skills and training” webpage.

For additional resources on workforce, visit: 

WorkSource Oregon

Local Workforce Development Boards

Eligible Training Provider List

For information concerning the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Education Benefits (GI Bill®) visit:

US Department of Veterans Affairs Education Programs


Oregon Colleges and Universities with Adult Learner Pathways

All Oregon college and universities have an array of programs for adult learners and value student success. For information on all Oregon colleges and schools, visit this link: find your future at an Oregon college or school