Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC)

The Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) is dedicated to fostering and sustaining the best, most rewarding pathways to opportunity and success for all Oregonians through an accessible, affordable and coordinated network for educational achievement beyond a high school diploma. Oregon’s higher education and workforce system serves hundreds of thousands of learners through seven public universities, 17 public community colleges, private and independent colleges and universities, workforce programs, and private career and trade schools. As the State of Oregon’s single, comprehensive portal to all sectors of higher education, HECC is uniquely positioned to provide strategic focus in areas such as: investing resources to maximize student success, increasing postsecondary affordability, improving pathways to and within postsecondary institutions, and connecting job-seekers with employment.

Established in 2011, the HECC is a 14-member volunteer commission responsible for advising the Oregon Legislature, the Governor, and the Chief Education Office on higher education policy. Its statutory authorities include the development of biennial budget recommendations for public postsecondary education in Oregon, making funding allocations to Oregon's public community colleges and public universities, approving new academic programs for the public institutions, allocating Oregon Opportunity Grants (state need-based student aid), authorizing degrees that are proposed by private and out-of-state (distance) providers, licensing private career and trade schools, overseeing programs for veterans, and implementing other legislative directives. The Commission is supported by an executive director, who oversees the work of the HECC agency. For additional information on the Commission, including public meetings, see

The executive director oversees the work of seven offices, all of which support the statutory responsibilities of the Commission. The HECC’s offices are described below and on the HECC website at As of July 1, 2015, the Office of Community College & Workforce Development (formerly the Department of CCWD) and the Office of Student Access & Completion (OSAC) became offices of the HECC.

The Office of the Executive Director, Policy & Communications carries out the central executive role of the agency, as well as communications, legislative affairs, human resources, policy initiatives, and other roles for the integrated agency.

The Office of Community Colleges & Workforce Development (CCWD) provides coordination, leadership and resources to Oregon’s network of 17 community colleges, 18 adult basic skills providers, ​nine local workforce areas, community-based organizations and other partnerships. Established in 1999, it has responsibility for monitoring the programs, services, and effectiveness of local community colleges and for reporting to the Legislative Assembly.

Community colleges receive state funding, and each college is governed by a locally elected board. Direct state support to community colleges is funded through the Community College Support Fund. CCWD also coordinates and provides statewide administration of the federally funded Workforce ​Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA); Title IB Adult, Youth, Dislocated Worker programs; WIA Title II Adult Education and Family Literacy programs; Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act programs; the non-federally funded Oregon Youth Conservation Corps; and the General Educational Development (GED) programs. During the 2011–13 biennium, WIA served over 352,481 adult Oregonians. In 2013, the Oregon Legislature established the Higher Education Coordinating Commission as the state rulemaking authority for community colleges, transferring authorities previously held by the State Board of Education.

The Office of Student Access & Completion (OSAC) administers a variety of state, federal, and privately funded student financial aid programs for the benefit of Oregonians attending institutions of postsecondary education, including the Oregon Opportunity Grant. OSAC also administers other student outreach programs, such as ASPIRE, and works in partnership with foundations, private individuals, financial institutions, employers, and membership organizations to administer scholarships for the benefit of Oregon students. The Oregon Opportunity Grant is Oregon’s largest state-funded, need-based grant program for new students planning to go to college and for continuing college students. To apply for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, students and families are encouraged to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at OSAC also administers more than 450 scholarship funds in partnership with foundations, private donors, and others. Students can access the OSAC website to learn more about OSAC programs, search for eligible scholarships, and apply for scholarships online. For more information, see

The Office of University Coordination provides academic and fiscal coordination related to Oregon’s seven public universities, including coordination of the academic program approval process, statewide initiatives and legislative directives to enhance postsecondary pathways and student success, biennial budget recommendations for the Public University Support Fund and capital investments, fiscal reporting and analysis, and the allocation of state funding.

The Office of Private Postsecondary Education oversees the quality, integrity, and diversity of private postsecondary programs in Oregon for the benefit of students and consumers. The Office includes the Office of Degree Authorization, which authorizes private degree-granting institutions and distance education providers, Private Career Schools which licenses and supports private career and trade schools, and Veterans Education which provides oversight of programs for veterans.

The Office of Research and Data collects, analyzes, and reports research and data on postsecondary education including data on students, courses, demographics, enrollments, academic performance, and academic pathways to comply with state and federal reporting requirements and inform decisions on the postsecondary education enterprise.

The Office of Operations provides accounting, budget, procurement, payroll, and informational technology support for all HECC offices.

Department of Education (ODE)

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) oversees the education of over 560,000 students in Oregon’s public K–12 education system. ODE is also in charge of public preschool programs, the state School for the Deaf, regional programs for children with disabilities, and education programs in Oregon youth corrections facilities. The Oregon State Constitution of 1859 established a system of common schools, but it wasn’t until 1951 when the Legislature dictated that the state’s Department of Education would be the central agency responsible for the state’s general educational activities. The governor serves as the superintendent of schools and appoints a deputy superintendent of public instruction to oversee the department. ODE is directed by the State Board of Education which sets educational policies and standards for Oregon’s public school districts and education service districts. The board is comprised of seven members appointed by the governor.

The Oregon Department of Education and the board focus on helping school districts achieve both local and statewide goals and priorities through strategies such as developing policies and standards, providing accurate and timely data to inform instruction, training teachers to use data effectively, administering numerous state and federal grants, and sharing and helping districts implement best practices. The goals of ODE include graduating our students as college and career ready, closing the achievement gap, improving teacher and administrator effectiveness, increasing performance for all schools and districts, and contributing to a strong, seamless education system from early childhood through higher education. For more information, see