July 01, 1999

More Than 200 UA Scholars Take Advantage of Scholarships

July 1,1999» NR 13-1999

About 780 Alaska high school seniors qualified for four-year $10,800 scholarships to attend any campus of the University of Alaska this year, and nearly 200 have already sent in applications to attend UA in the fall, and that number is expected to increase over the next several weeks.

"Even though this is the first year of the program, the response so far exceeds our expectations, and we hope that’s a trend that will continue," said Ann Ringstad, director of the UA Scholars Program. Students and their parents are responding very favorably to the program."

The initial results of the first year of the program were announced today at a ceremony where Gov. Tony Knowles signed into law a bill that enables the university and Alaska school districts to collaborate in implementing the Scholars Program and other scholarships available to Alaska students. Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, sponsored the legislation.

Gov. Knowles signed the bill at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital where he also signed two other measures sponsored by Fairbanks legislators, a mental health bill and a bill relating to the release of hazardous materials on municipal lands.

UA President Mark R. Hamilton initiated the Scholars Program as one of his first actions after assuming the presidency of the university last year. The program, which provides the four-year scholarships to the top 10 percent of each high school graduating class in Alaska, is modeled after an idea proposed in 1998 by Gov. Knowles. The original bill died in the 1998 legislature, but Sen. Wilken introduced the current legislation this year."This scholarship program is designed to encourage more young people to stay in Alaska for their college education," Hamilton said. "We know if we educate our young people in Alaska, the chances are substantially increased that they will stay to accept a job, raise a family, contribute to the social, cultural, and economic enrichment of Alaska."

As established by Hamilton and the Board of Regents, the program will be paid from revenues generated from land that is owned by the university. Cost of the program will depend on how many of the eligible students decide to attend UA, and estimates are that the cost will vary from $500,000 to $750,000 a year, and will be paid initially by the university from earnings of the University of Alaska Land Grant Endowment Fund.The Scholars Program is receiving national attention because of recent studies which show that the cost of higher education continues to rise nationally as available federal grant money continues to erode, putting higher education out of reach for many families in America. California and Texas have both announced similar student retention scholarship programs.

For more information about the UA Scholars Program, go to the web site at http://www.alaska.edu/scholars/index.html.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Bob Miller, 907-474-6311