Board of Regents Increases UA Scholars Award
By: Zayn Roohi
The state of Alaska introduced the UA Scholars award in 1999 as an incentive for the most academically inclined students to stay in state for college. The $11,000 award is funded entirely by University of Alaska land grants, and is given to the top 10 percent in each class.
That same award was not increased until Sept. 23, when the Board of Regents voted to increase the UA Scholars award to $12,000.
According to student regent Courtney Enright, the reason for the lack of increase is because the Board of Regents is not allowed to spend more than 4.5 percent of the land grant fund, which equates to $5.5 million.
Of that $5.5 million, only $3.6 million goes to fund the UA Scholars award. The rest goes towards Office of Land Management, as well as a fund that students can apply to use.
“The scholarship was increased by $1000, because that’s what we could afford to reasonably increase,” Enright said.
Currently, the average 15-credit semester costs a student $2610 in tuition, which is more than twice as much as 1999. Even accounting for inflation, students are still paying a much higher amount now, which has not been matched by an increase in the scholarship.
“It makes sense to motivate kids because otherwise you would have a bunch of kids walking around and not caring about college like whatever. But it’s just not that much,” Biology student Sandra Kolberg said.
The state of Alaska also has the Alaska Performance Scholarship, which awards students between $1,189 and $2,377 a semester, depending on their grades and test scores. Students are required to have a 2.5 high school grade point average at the lowest level, and a 3.5 grade point average for the highest.
All together, this means that a student could potentially get $3,877 per semester in aid from the state. The total cost of room, board, tuition and fees for this semester is $7,206, according to UAF’s online academic catalog.
“It doesn’t matter that it’s so small, because if you’re a UA Scholar then you probably got the APS too, and then you can apply for other scholarships too,” psychology student Eden Gumaer said.
Nationally, most states offer some kind of scholarship for their top students. California offers students at max $6000 semester, while Washington offers only $500 a semester. There are a few states, such as Alabama, that offer nothing to their students.
Enright also said that it would most likely be a minimum of five years before the scholarship was raised again, due to the way that the land grant fund was calculated.
During that same session, the Board of Regents also voted against raising tuition for the upcoming school year.