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July 1, 2021

Statement from University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney on Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grant awards; University to honor awards now and cover delayed payment from the State of Alaska

I remain confident that when the Legislature convenes for the next special session in August, members will take the necessary action to resolve the issues that are impacting two critical student financial aid programs -- the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the needs based Alaska Education Grant. There was no intention by the Legislature to impact these scholarships or grants. Rather, these critical student aid programs are an unintended victim of larger budget negotiations and the necessary “reverse sweep.”

However, time is of the essence for our students. We’ve heard their concerns, weighed options for how to create certainty for the 5,400 Alaskans awarded the scholarships or needs-based grants, and decided the university will honor the APS and AEG awards to new and continuing students for this fall. UA understands funding from the state to cover these scholarships will be delayed. But for now, our most pressing goal is to ensure students pursue their higher education goals without added financial stress. To accomplish that goal, the UA system is acting now so that our students can focus on a successful collegiate experience this fall. 

Our students rely on these important financial aid tools to fund their education, and they have worked incredibly hard to earn these awards. I am particularly proud that 86 percent of those receiving the APS and AEG have chosen to attend one of our three universities. 

I am confident the Legislature and governor will resolve this issue during the August special session. In addition to the scholarships and grant programs, this issue impacts the state’s contribution to the WWAMI program, which provides $3.2 million in funding to support 80 UAA medical students in partnerships with the University of Washington. Your voice is critical for communicating the importance of these programs for the long-term. Please reach out to legislators and the governor to express the need to resolve this issue as soon as possible.  

I encourage our students to monitor the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education's website and look for further updates on legislative action. UAA, UAF and UAS financial aid offices will be reaching out to those of you who have already enrolled or applied. If you have not yet enrolled or applied, please take advantage of the opportunity to enroll at UAA, UAF, UAS or the community campus near you.   

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For more information, contact Roberta Graham, associate vice president of public affairs at 907-360-2416 (cell).