Higher Education Fund

  • An  area of focus is securing the Higher Education Investment Fund.
  • Alaska’s students need resolution on the status of this $410 million fund, specifically whether the funds should be considered exempt from the year-end sweep into the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
  • Four university students have filed a lawsuit asking the court to rule on the issue. Basically, the students are asking that the funds be restored and for the fund to be exempt from the year-end sweep. 
  • We support their effort because thousands of students are counting on these funds for their future education.
  • Uncertainty related to fund availability over the last few years has been very disruptive to some of the best and brightest students in Alaska. 

Madilyn Short, Riley von Borstel, Kjrsten Schindler and Jay Mark Pascua
Governor Michael Dunleavy in his official capacity, State of Alaska, Office of Management and Budget, and State of Alaska, Department of Administration

May 3, 2022: The Alaska Supreme Court issued its decision regarding the Higher Education Investment Fund [HEIF]. Although the Supreme Court did not rule in favor of protecting the HEIF, we are proud of the strong case our students made, and they are to be commended for the pursuit of justice on behalf of all University of Alaska students.


Alaska's Higher Education Investment Fund

Alaska faces unique challenges in postsecondary education access and completion. Alaska ranks last in college participation by students from low-income families. We rank second-to-last in the nation in graduation rates for undergraduates at four-year institutions, measured six years after initial enrollment. By 2025, 65% of all jobs in Alaska will require some form of postsecondary training, yet we rank in the bottom ten states for job preparedness, with just half of Alaskans possessing a postsecondary credential. Addressing this educational attainment gap is essential to our state’s economic prosperity and to ensuring Alaskans are ready for today’s fast-paced, highly competitive marketplace.

Financial assistance programs are critical to increasing student access and success in higher education. Recognizing this, in 2012 the Legislature established the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund to endow two assistance programs for Alaskans, the merit-based Alaska Performance Scholarship and the needs-based Alaska Education Grant. The fund was initially capitalized with $400 million.

  • The Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) provides Alaska high school graduates an opportunity to earn up to $4,755 per year towards their postsecondary education. Recipients can use the scholarship for up to four years at eligible universities, colleges, and career training centers in Alaska.
  • The Alaska Education Grant (AEG) provides up to $4,000 per year of needs-based financial assistance to Alaskans attending qualifying postsecondary institutions in Alaska. Awards are prioritized based on financial need.

Academic and Economic Progress

The Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund and the financial assistance it provides, has been a tremendous success. In just a short period of time, the initiative has increased rigor in our high school curriculums, provided incentive for middle and high school students to achieve academic excellence, and encouraged our best and brightest graduates to stay in Alaska.

High school students are demonstrating behaviors that are positively associated with completing high school, enrolling in postsecondary school and finishing their programs of study. They are taking more rigorous classes in math, science, social studies and languages, getting better grades, and heading to college after graduation. They are better prepared to begin college-level work and more likely to graduate within the standard time – usually two to four years. For Alaskans from lower socio-economic backgrounds and families without access to other financial resources, the availability of financial aid is a determining factor in their ability to complete a postsecondary degree or credential. AEG recipients are typically older than a more traditional undergraduate, have access to fewer sources of aid, and stand to benefit significantly from the economic mobility higher education provides.

  • Excelling in High School
  • Excelling in College
  • Staying in Alaska
  • Succeeding in the Workforce