June 16, 2006

New financial aid grants available

For Immediate Release
Friday, June 16, 2006

The University of Alaska announced today two new federal grants for college students based on financial need, with one grant promising up to $4,000 a year to eligible college junior and senior students.  Students with financial need meeting eligibility criteria would receive both the new grant and a federal Pell grant, with a combined total up to $8,050 per year.

The national Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent grant, known as the SMART grant,  is aimed at qualified and eligible college juniors and seniors admitted to a bachelor degree program in math, science-including physical, life and computer sciences-technology, engineering and certain foreign language programs  for the 2006-07 academic year.  The program is for full-time, U.S. students who are eligible for federal Pell grants with a cumulative 3.0 grade point average.  (For a complete look at eligible majors, go to http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/attachments/GEN0606A.pdf.)

The second grant, called the Academic Competitiveness Grant, or ACG, is for qualified and eligible first- and second-year, full-time college students. Its maximum award is $750 for freshmen and up to $1,300 for sophomore students who completed qualifying studies in high school. 

The first step in applying for either grant is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. UA has mounted an aggressive awareness campaign about the FAFSA in each of the last two years, with the number of applications during that time doubling among Alaska students. The FAFSA is required for both federal and state of Alaska financial aid.

"There's no doubt that a college education is a great return on investment, even with recent tuition increases factored into the equation," said Saichi Oba, associate vice president for student and enrollment services at the UA System Office. "The question shouldn't be solely 'how much is tuition?' but rather, 'how affordable is a college education?' Priced at an average of $4,000 a year for undergraduate tuition and fees, attending college at UA continues to be a wise investment in your future and very affordable-especially for students who qualify for grants and loans."

The two new grants were developed to better prepare American students to compete globally, Oba said.  The grants are outlined in a new federal law called the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005.

Since both grants will be available to students for the fall 2006 semester, Oba and other university officials are trying to get the word out to current UA students, prospective students from Alaska, parents or guardians of prospective Alaskan students, and high school counselors across the state.

In addition, UA staff members are working closely with the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education    to fully inform students and potential students about the grant aid, Oba said. Students should complete the FAFSA and apply for the grants as soon as possible.

Financial aid offices at the three urban campuses are a good place to start for more information:

UAA Financial Aid Office, located in Anchorage:
www.uaa.alaska.edu/financialaid; or e-mail at financial.aid@uaa.alaska.edu;
phone 907-786-1586.

UAF Financial Aid Office, located in Fairbanks: www.uaf.edu/finaid; or
e-mail at financialaid@uaf.edu; phone at 907-474-7256 or toll-free at

UAS Financial Aid Office, located in Juneau; www.uas.alaska.edu/finaid; or
e-mail finaid@uas.alaska.edu; phone 907-796-6255.

For more information, call Kate Ripley, 907/450-8102 or email kate.ripley@alaska.edu.