September is College Savings Month

When September arrives, our children will be back in school and our campuses in full swing. It is a great time to kick off College Savings Plan Month, a national event designed to encourage families to evaluate or establish a college savings account.

The UA College Savings Plan is a top ranked 529 plan, offering investments that grow tax deferred, and earnings that are tax-free if used for qualified education expenses. Alaska residents can contribute their Permanent Fund Dividend directly to their college savings account and in the process, be entered to win a $25,000 scholarship account or one of four, $2,500 scholarship accounts.

Participants can also build their accounts through monthly payroll deduction contributions. “Payroll deduction is convenient way for university employees to fund their college savings accounts,” said Lael Oldmixon, director of the UA College Savings Plan. “The employee tuition waiver is a wonderful employee benefit, but tuition represents only about half the cost of an education. Families need to plan for other costs such as room, board and fees.”

To participate in payroll deduction, employees should first set up an account in the UA College Savings Plan. Register online at www.uacollegesavings.com or by calling 1-800-478-0003. Then, fill out the Salary Reduction form (FORM) and return it to the UA College Savings Plan office. Everyone who signs up for payroll deduction will receive a complimentary canvas tote bag.

Oldmixon also encourages participants “to review their investments and increase their systematic contributions whenever possible.” Visit www.uacollegesavings.com for more information about saving for college including a college cost calculator.  

If you would prefer to talk to someone in person, the plan has an office in Fairbanks in Suite 207 of the Butrovich Building and in Anchorage in Suite 209 of the Bragaw Office Building.

Follow the UA College Savings Plan (www.facebook.com/ak529) on Facebook and watch for updates about upcoming events and tips during the month of September.

Kate Ripley and Lael Oldmixon draw for a scholarship winner from names collected during the Tanana Valley State Fair. Fifteen month old Espen Parrett of Fairbanks won the $1,500 scholarship account. Congratulations Espen!

Stay on TRACK Launches a Third Year

Students at new student orientations around the state are learning what it takes to Stay on TRACK in college.

Campuses are sharing a video with students and parents outlining the value and importance of completing their degree on time. The focus on freshmen was born partially from UA junior and senior students that said, “I wish I would have known this as a freshman” about the additional time and cost incurred by taking less than 30 credits a year.  

The Stay on TRACK program promotes taking 30 credits a year, working with an academic advisor, choosing a major carefully, and using Degree Works, a software program available to all enrolled students that helps track degree completion.

Students in residence halls this fall will be sporting laundry bags stating “I’m taking a full load,” and a Facebook photo contest promotion launching in October will help increase student awareness of Stay on TRACK.  

The Stay on TRACK outreach seems to be working. Fall 2012 showed an overall 9.84 percent spike in students at the university enrolling in 15 or more credits compared to the prior year.

The success has garnered media coverage, including this article in the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Opinion pieces on the subject from Pat Jacobson, Corrine Soltis and Shauna Thorton are reprinted in UA Perspectives in this issue of the Statewide Voice.

For more information, contact Mary Gower, 907.450.8145 or msgower@alaska.edu.

Samantha Stanbrough shows off the Stay on TRACK laundry bags distributed to new students at orientations around the state. Photo by Monique Musick
Time to gear up for another semester of competition and cooperation. Here Nanook and Spirit shake hands on the tarmack as they wait on the Era plane sharing their liknesses. Photo courtesy UAA.

Back to School!

Our universities and campuses are gearing up for the start of the new academic year. The following are the first days of instruction at UA campuses:

  • UAA: Monday, Aug. 26
  • UAF: Thursday, Sept. 5
  • UAS: Tuesday, Sept. 3

Please look ahead at the academic calendars and note finals weeks, winter holiday breaks, spring breaks, first days of spring 2014 instruction, commencements, etc., for your own personal calendar, especially if you interact regularly with staff and faculty on other campuses.

UAA http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/calendar/academicdatesdeadlines.cfm

UAF http://www.uaf.edu/catalog/catalog_13-14/acad_calendar.html

UAS http://www.uas.alaska.edu/calendar/academic/

Students Share Their Reasons For Choosing UA

When Christa Eussen and Salome’ Scott decided to go to UAA they had other choices. Both were high performing high school students. Both had opportunities to attend universities out of state. And both say they are happy they chose UA.

“Instead of going out of state to the University Washington, I decided to stay here and go to school at UAA. I’m actually very happy that I did, because I am going have no debt, and actually be able to afford medical school, hopefully,” said Christa Eussen, class of 2014.

“After my first year here (at UAA), I thought maybe I would transfer out, but I connected with so many of my professors already and I have my (degree) plan set out, so I decided to stay here. I really have had a positive experience,” said Salomé Scott, class of 2015.

Undergraduate research opportunities have opened so many doors for them. Christa has been involved in health science research at UAA, and Salome’ has just returned from Poland, where she assisted in a UAA chemistry research project.

“I’ve had a very challenging education. I’ve gotten to know my teachers, they actually have Ph.D.’s, instead of T.A.’s (teacher’s assistants), and they’ve given me a lot of opportunities in terms of research,” said Eussen.

“I want to keep on absorbing everything. I do want to pursue higher education. I’d like to get a Ph.D., I like teaching too, so getting a professorship and continuing research where I could give undergraduates the same opportunity my professors have given me would be wonderful,” said Scott.

Click HERE to watch Christa Eussen and Salome’ Scott on UALASKATV.

Please Update Your Directory Information

Please review your listing in our online directory People (https://people.alaska.edu/) before Sept. 5.

If you need to make any changes or corrections, hit the "edit" button directly under your listing. From there, you will be taken to EDIR, the UA Enterprise directory, located at http://edir.alaska.edu.

If you need assistance updating your information in EDIR, use the help documentation located at www.alaska.edu/oit/services/enterprise-directory/edir-help/ or check out OIT’s training schedule at www.alaska.edu/oit/training for EDIR sessions.

If your office has changed locations this past spring or summer or if your website address has changed, it is very important that you update your information in EDIR.

NOTE: For first names, EDIR uses the Preferred First Name in Banner. If you wish EDIR and the People directory to reflect something other than your legal first name, you can change it by logging into UA Online and going to Personal Information then choosing Preferred First Name.

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