College tuition isn't going down. Neither are fees, books or the cost of living.
And some students can't make it without financial aid.
"I'm a new father, and between that and how much it costs to live here in Bend, how much food is, just the combination of everything, there's just no way," one Central Oregon Community College student said Monday when asked whether he could go to school without financial aid.
For many students, that means rising debt and monstrous student loans.
"(I have) $15,0000 (in student loans) for one two-year degree. The grants are so low compare to the loans I have to take out," said another student.
But what if the state took out that debt, instead of you?
There's a plan in the state Capitol to do just that -- a $500 million bond that would establish a permanent scholarship fund for Oregon's low- and middle-income students -- eventually tripling the financial aid available.
Kurt Killinger is a student at COCC, and he's also the director of legislative affairs for the college's student body. He attended hearings in Salem last week on the bond, and says it's something the state can't afford not to do.
"The real problem is, students are borrowing money, we're borrowing money at a very high (interest) rate. The state can borrow this money, with bonds, in this market with a very low rate," Killnger said.
And not everyone can qualify for enough loans to cover college costs. Killinger says right now, some of the state's most needy students don't get financial aid from the state.
"Two out of 10 currently receive the grant, eight out of 10 do not, and this is out of people who actually qualify for it," he said. "There's a huge problem there -- you have so many that qualify but so few who receive it."
"The grants would allow more people to go to college, and the colleges to expand and grow and have better classes for the students," a student said.
That could easing the burden for so many who want the American dream -- without the nightmare of student loans.