Voice

University of Alaska Sees Increase in Grant Aid to Students

University of Alaska students are filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as "the FAFSA," in record numbers, resulting in a marked increase in need-based Pell Grants awarded to Alaskans.

Pell grants at UA nearly tripled in six years, from 4,035 grants valued at $8.9 million in 2007 to 7,848 grants valued at $25.8 million in 2012. In Alaska, more than 90 percent of Pell grant recipients who are dependent students enroll in a four-year institution--the highest percentage in the nation. Students currently can receive up to $5,645 a year in Pell grants depending on family resources.

There's no doubt UA is a great value with the second-lowest resident tuition in the country. UA President Pat Gamble and the Board of Regents have made it a priority to minimize tuition increases while maintaining quality. In addition, the State of Alaska is strongly committed to UA through its financial and public support.

Yet, all post-secondary job training or college still costs money. Full-time university tuition and fees ranges between $5,200 and $7,200 a year.

The FAFSA is a UA student's best friend, providing access to federal need-based aid such as the Pell grant, some merit-based assistance as well as privately funded scholarships.

Increasing FAFSA participation has been a major goal since 2007. February FAFSA Frenzy, at  ( http://www.alaska.edu/fafsafrenzy ) encourages students to fill out this form, raising awareness with drawings, contests, fun events and workshops. Also supporting increased FAFSA submission rates are the Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education's College Goal Alaska ( http://collegegoalak.org ) and UA/ACPE's College Application Week (http://www.alaska.edu/studentservices/college-application-week ).

"These efforts are clearly working," said Saichi Oba, associate vice president for students at the UA System. "Since 2007, the number of FAFSAs submitted per UA full-time student equivalent (FTE) has increased by 53 percent. The overall number of FAFSAs submitted increased 69 percent. UA
students are increasingly recognizing the value of the FAFSA in financing college."

Another goal of the financial aid outreach campaign is to increase the number of FAFSAs submitted early, between January and March. UA now receives 45 percent of FAFSAs by the end of March, a 25 percent increase over prior years. These early students receive early award letters. Early awarding encourages early decisions, and enables students to connect earlier to the campus they will attend.
 

Nominations Open for Staff Make Students Count Award

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 21, 2014.

The 2014 Staff Make Students Count nomination packet and award information is now available at http://www.alaska.edu/governance/staff-alliance/staff-make-students-count/.

The annual award recognizes staff who have provided outstanding service to students anywhere in the UA system. Each recipient receives an award plaque, $1,000 and two domestic airline vouchers. All nominees receive a certificate of nomination. The university president will present the awards at a Board of Regents' meeting.

All regular full-time permanent and part-time permanent exempt and non-exempt staff employed by the University of Alaska are eligible to apply. Service to students may include service as part of the job or as volunteer service, either directly or indirectly to current or prospective students. Please complete the nomination form and submit it with a letter of nomination containing an explanation of the service provided to students and three letters of endorsement from those knowledgeable of the contribution made by the applicant/nominee.

Up to four individuals can be awarded--one each for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Southeast, and Statewide, provided there are nominations from each that meet the criteria and deadlines.

Applications for award must include:

  • Letter of nomination and rationale for nomination
  • Completed nomination form.
  • At least three letters of endorsement from those knowledgeable of the contribution made by the applicant/nominee.
  • Letters from students are encouraged.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 21, 2014.

UA College Savings Plan Announces $25,000 Scholarship Account Drawing

The UA College Savings Plan is giving away another $25,000 scholarship account for those who check “yes” on Line 6 of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application.

Line 6 is where applicants indicate they wish to deposit half of their PFD into an existing or new college savings plan account. In addition to the $25,000 grand prize, which will be deposited into an account for the winner, the UA College Savings Plan will choose four additional $2,500 scholarship account prize winners. Parents are encouraged to check “yes” on both their own PFD application as well as their child’s to increase chances of winning.

The Plan initiated the giveaway to motivate more Alaska families to save their PFD’s for higher education expenses. “This will be the fourth year we’ve conducted the giveaway, and the incentive is working” said Lael Oldmixon, UA College Savings Plan director. “Employees should save for their children, even if they’re planning to attend UA.” She added that employees can also save automatically through
payroll deduction.

Plan beneficiaries can use the money to pay for expenses at UA or any eligible college, university, or vocational/technical school in the country. If the beneficiary uses it for tuition at UA, $25,000 could be enough to pay for a four-year degree.

The drawing will take place Oct. 28, 2014. The Education Trust of Alaska, the trust established to administer the college savings program, is funding the scholarship giveaway.

The PFD application process started Jan. 1 and runs until March 31, 2014. Applicants can apply online or visit a distribution center to pick up paper forms and additional information. For more information about the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, go to
http://www.pfd.state.ak.us/. For more information about the UA College Savings Plan and the $25,000 Scholarship Account Giveaway, visit http://www.uacollegesavings.com.

Anatomy of a Phishing Attempt

By Karl Kowalski, chief information technology officer

The rivers and lakes may be frozen this time of year, but the phishing is still going on. Phishing is a computer scam in which someone tries to get information from you unwittingly. This may be in the form of a phone call, email, web site or advertisement. The most common is an email. The attached handout breaks down the anatomy of a phishing attempt quite well and will give you clues to look for when determining if an email request and its accompanying links are legitimate. 

The bottom line is, if you think something is "phishy," trust your instinct and delete it, or better yet, report it. Use the drop-down menu next the the reply button to choose REPORT PHISHING. (See image below.)

If you are ever in doubt or need assistance, please contact the OIT support center at 450-8300 or helpdesk@alaska.edu.

UA Announces Winners of myTRACK Alaska Airlines Contest

University of Alaska student Kevin Arias-Monge won two round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines as part of the university’s myTRACK photo contest.

In the contest, students posted a “selfie,” or self-portrait, to UA’s Facebook site indicating with their fingers how many years it would take to earn their degrees. The contest is part of UA’s annual Stay on TRACK campaign, now in its third year, which encourages students to graduate quicker and with less debt.

The contest ran during October and November. The top prize was two, round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines. Arias-Monge, who is Hawaii-bound with his winning tickets, had this advice to share with fellow students: “Focus on your studies and limit yourself to anything recreational until the work is done.   School first, play later.”

UA’s efforts to encourage full-time students to take additional credits have made a difference. Students who attempted 15 or more credit hours had a higher credit hour completion rate than those who attempted less than 15 credit hours. In the long term, students who attempt and earn at least 15 credit hours a semester perform significantly better than full-time students who take less than 15 credit hours a semester. First-year retention to the second year of college is 23 percentage points greater for students taking 15 credits per semester compared to students taking lighter course loads. And graduation rates among full-time students with heavier loads are impressive--39 percentage points higher (over a 10-year period).

Alumnus Kil McNamara won $250 toward the department of his choice. McNamara shared that timely graduation is important because “the cost of the tuition is much different when you graduate on-time and save the extra years.” He donated his cash prize toward the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage to help future engineers. 

Derek Ward won the $250 staff/faculty award and is donating it to the OIT Data Center Operations to recognize this department’s valuable work. As an employee and alumnus, Ward said he‘s “proud to be a part of the university for the fact there are so many opportunities available for students, faculty and staff.”

Ward said, “When it comes to getting your education, outside distractions seem to be the biggest road blocks. Stay focused on your end goal at all times.”

More about UA’s Stay on TRACK campaign is at www.alaska.edu/stayontrack.

Axel Robert and Janet Joyce Carlson Memorial Scholarship

University of Alaska Alumnus Kurt Carlson has established the Axel Robert and Janet Joyce Carlson Memorial Scholarship with a gift in honor of his parents. 

The Carlsons were long-time former employees of the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Axel with the Cooperative Extension Service and Joyce as administrative assistant to Earl Beistline, head of what was then called the Mining & Mineral Engineering Department, now the College of Engineering and Mines.

As a pioneer of cold climate construction, Axel “Bob” Carlson traveled the state of Alaska happy to share his knowledge of energy conservation. Joyce was always by his side. Bob’s efforts in energy efficiency are now standard construction techniques in Alaska. His publication, “Building a Log House in Alaska,” is still a well-used reference in high latitude construction. The Carlsons made Alaska their home from 1965 to 2002, when they reluctantly left the state.

“We established the scholarship as an opportunity for family and friends to share in the remembrance of mom and dad, and to honor their contribution to the university. They were always there to help others. This scholarship will now ensure that spirit lives on,” their son Kurt said.

Once the scholarship reaches an endowed level of $25,000 it will be open to students with a GPA of 2.5 and enrolled at any UA campus. Contributions can be directed to the University of Alaska Foundation, Attention: Axel Robert and Janet Joyce Carlson Memorial Scholarship Endowment, PO Box 755080, Fairbanks, Alaska   99775-5080.

Applying for a PFD? Consider a Pick.Click.Give. Donation to UA

Alaska residents can donate to the University of Alaska when filing for Permanent Fund Dividends. Giving to UA via the Pick.Click.Give. program helps students achieve their goals. This year, UA is among more than 400 organizations eligible to receive donations through Pick.Click.Give., which Alaskans can use when when they apply for a dividend online.

ExxonMobil again has offered a matching gift to encourage donations to Alaska colleges and universities during the 2014 Pick.Click.Give. campaign. Every contribution to any of the campuses of the University of Alaska will be matched by the company one-to-one, up to $100,000. Thank you to ExxonMobil!

How Many of YOU Went to the Emergency Room Last Year?

The 24-hour NurseLine puts you in contact with medical professionals

UA employees and their dependents visited the emergency room over 2,000 times in the past plan year, many of those more than once. Emergency room visits are one of the most expensive ways to seek treatment under our medical plan. It's estimated that almost 50 percent of those visits could have been avoided.

But how, you ask, can someone avoid a trip to their friendly neighborhood ER?  

UA implemented the 24-hour NurseLine this past year that puts you in direct contact with a trained medical professional every hour of every day. When the baby is sick at 2 a.m., or that knee is still not looking right at 7 p.m. on a Saturday and YOUR doctor is not available, the NurseLine can answer that most critical question: What can I do and do I need to go to the hospital to do it?

No time is too wrong, no ailment or twinge too trivial, no fever too low to contact the free, confidential NurseLine to ask your questions. Call any time, any day at 800-841-8343.

And, as always, in the case of a clear emergency call 911.

Paychecks No Longer Mailed Beginning April 4

As part of ongoing efforts to reduce costs, individual mailing of employee paychecks will be discontinued beginning with the April 4, 2014 paydate, Human Resources has announced.

UA currently spends more than $26,000 per year in postage to mail employee paychecks to individual addresses. Once implemented, campuses will receive all checks for their physical location in a single shipment. The campus will then distribute the paper checks to employees.  

In addition, paper copies of direct deposit advisories also will no longer be generated.

To further help in the systemwide cost containment effort, UA’s Human Resources strongly encourages direct deposit and the elimination of paper paychecks whenever possible. Conservative estimates place the cost of generating a manual paper check at approximately $6 per employee, per pay period. More liberal interpretations that add in labor costs put this estimate as high as $50 per check, per pay period. Electronic payments are estimated to cost only 30 cents by comparison.

There are multiple additional benefits to using direct deposit:

  • It is safe, secure and convenient.
  • Direct deposits can be divided across up to six different banks per pay check.
  • Money is deposited in your bank (or banks) on payday, whereas manual check delivery may be hampered or delayed due to weather, avalanche or other circumstances.
  • Direct deposit saves money for the system and helps EVERYONE.

If you have any questions about the process of setting up direct deposit, please contact Human Resources.

OIT introduces the new eLive--Blackboard Collaborate

What happened with eLive!?Blackboard Collaborate is the new eLive!

Blackboard Inc. acquired Elluminate Inc. in 2010. Since that time, Blackboard has been working with the original eLive! developers to refine features and develop the next generation tool. As part of its transition into the Blackboard product line, eLive! has been rebranded as Blackboard Collaborate.  

A Blackboard Collaborate pilot was completed last semester at UAF. Participants in the UAF pilot included faculty and staff from IAC, e-Learning, CTC, UA Statewide and UAF academic departments. All participants provided overwhelmingly positive feedback, which played a major role in OIT moving forward with Blackboard Collaborate.

Collaborate has all of the familiar features of eLive!, plus integrated telephone, mobile applications and an extensive list of improvements and fixes. The old eLive! will be accessible during the Spring 2014 semester, but OIT strongly encourages switching to Blackboard Collaborate now.  

How do you know if this affects you? If you use eLive!, this affects you.

Blackboard Collaborate is the current web conferencing product supported by Blackboard Inc. and is available now in UAF’s Blackboard Learn. Even though the old eLive! will continue to be accessible this semester, OIT highly recommends making the move to Blackboard Collaborate now.

What should you do now?  If you are already familiar with eLive!, Collaborate will be very familiar and even easier to use. To get started with Collaborate, visit the BlackboardCollaborate website for step-by-step instructions on how to get your computer ready, and get going with Collaborate. If you have never used eLive!, or would like to learn more about Collaborate, the Training & Development group will  offer training sessions every week for everyone who would like to become more familiar with Blackboard Collaborate.You can sign-up for a training session on the training calendar

If you have any questions concerning this service transition or other services, please contact the OIT Support Center at 450-8300, 1-800-478-8226, or via email at helpdesk@alaska.edu.

Training Resources for UA Employees

The Statewide Office of Human Resources announces the following webinars during February through April 2014 for University employees. See http://www.alaska.edu/hrtraining/Calendar/ for the monthly calendar at a glance.

WEBINARS

Webinars descriptions are posted on the HR website. Webinars are scheduled on the first Wednesday (11 a.m.) and third Thursday (2 p.m.) based upon employee feedback on preferred weekdays and times for a webinar. Upon registering, employees will receive a confirmation email and a subsequent reminder email 24 hours prior to the webinar.

  • Friendly Persuasion: How to Get the Things You Want  - Feb. 5, 2014, Wednesday, 11 a.m. Register
  • Improving Your Memory - Feb. 20, 2014, Thursday, 2 p.m.  Register
  • Mindfulness: Being Present in Your Work and Life - March 5, 2014, Wednesday, 11 a.m. Register
  • Goal Setting for Personal and Professional Success - March 20, 2014, Thursday, 2 p.m. Register
  • Becoming a Better Listener - April 2, 2014, Wednesday, 11 a.m. Register
  • Effective Communication -  April 17, 2014, Thursday, 2 p.m.  Register

The webinars range from 45-60 minutes in length and are open to all University of Alaska employees. If the webinar takes place during work hours, supervisory approval should be obtained to ensure proper departmental coverage. Employees may join these webinars from any computer with speakers using the chat function to comment or ask questions. Please note that although a telephone number will be provided to participate, the telephone number is one with a long-distance charge. Therefore, the computer speakers (or earbuds) and chat function is the preferred method for participating.  

Supervisors may request a webinar topic for a department meeting or retreat. In addition, employees may request a topic for a future webinar date. Simply review the ComPsych Catalog posted at ComPsych webinar page (http://www.alaska.edu/hrtraining/e-learning/compsych-learning-events/ ).   When submitting a request, please email syhrtraining@email.alaska.edu and include “ComPsych Webinar Request” in your subject line.

UA EMPLOYEE E-LEARNING - SKILLSOFT RESOURCES

University employees have access to free online courses, job aids and books 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Employees may access these SkillSoft resources one of two ways:

1. UAOnline.  After logging in, click the “Employee Services” tab, then “Employee E-Learning” link, and “SkillSoft” or

2. through the Statewide Human Resources webpage Login here to Employee E-Learning (http://www.alaska.edu/hrtraining/e-learning/skillsoft/ ) Log in with UA Authentication Service ID and password. If you need assistance, contact the UA Call Center at 450-8300 or your regional helpdesk.  

The professional development resources are available from any computer with an Internet connection.   After completing a course, your learning results are automatically recorded and transferred to your learning history within SkillPort.  

Are you interested in preparing for a certification exam?  Do you need recertification credits for existing credentials you hold?  SkillSoft courses may provide an option for you…

SkillSoft courses may be used as continuing professional education credit for individuals who hold credentials or have achieved certifications associated with various globally recognized sponsor organizations. Learn more about how SkillSoft courses can support the professional development requirements of various organizations. University employees may find information at the Statewide Human Resources webpage ( http://www.alaska.edu/hrtraining/e-learning/re-certification-prep/ ) or at SkillSoft.com Info Center on certification curriculum or Accreditation (http://www.skillsoft.com/about/accreditations/http://www.skillsoft.com/catalog/certification/curricula.asp ).  

Orientation or Demonstration to the SkillSoft Resources.

Has it been a while since you’ve logged into your SkillSoft account or perhaps you didn’t know about these resources? Join one of the three demonstrations scheduled:

Feb. 21 at 9 a.m. AST

1. Go to https://skillsoft.webex.com/skillsoft/j.php?J=273511546&PW=NZjU2ZDE1YTYy
2. If requested, enter your name and email address.
3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: welcome
4. Click "Join".
5. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

Meeting Number: 273 511 546
Meeting Password: welcome
Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721  (US)
Conference Code: 623 546 8761

March 28 at 10 a.m. AST
Go to https://skillsoft.webex.com/skillsoft/j.php?J=276380795&PW=NM2I4N2JkZmZk
Meeting Number: 276 380 795
Meeting Password: welcome
Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721  (US)
Conference Code: 623 546 8761

May 1 at 9 a.m. AST
Go to https://skillsoft.webex.com/skillsoft/j.php?J=270078351&PW=NOGYwMjQ1YWNm
Meeting Number: 270 078 351
Meeting Password: welcome
Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721  (US)
Conference Code: 623 546 8761

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Anne Sakumoto at anne.sakumoto@alaska.edu or (907) 786-1432.

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