Lida Zakurdaew / Sun Star
On Tuesday the Alaska Senate discussed SB 208, which would eliminate the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska Education Grant. High school graduates of 2016 would be the last class to receive these grants.
This week we asked students: What are your thoughts on these forms of state-sponsored aid, and the potential of losing them?
“It is very important. People need it to go to school sometimes and it’s important that people can get these. I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t get financial aid either.” -Brian Campbell, Emergency Management
“Firstly, the bill was fast-tracked. A motion to refer it to an additional committee—the education committee—failed. I don’t understand why, and it doesn’t seem like the best course of action. It seemed like it should have gone through several committees. As far as just eliminating the programs and the effect that it would have on students, I’ve heard from students all over the state on this issue more than I have heard on any other issue. Students who had received the APS would have otherwise not gone to a higher education institution in Alaska. So that is our best and brightest either not going to college, because they can’t afford it, or going elsewhere… A very small portion of people who graduate high school in Alaska actually continue on to post-secondary education. So that is a huge challenge that we need to overcome if we are going to have a successful education-career pipeline. And things like the Alaska Performance Scholarship are to facilitate that leap between secondary and post-secondary. It’s disheartening to see what many to perceive to be a vote of no confidence in what we need to produce hire-able, employable, intelligent and educated individuals in Alaska.” -Colby Freel, Theatre
“I think that the Alaska Performance Scholarship is something that’s really necessary for getting people to our school. I feel that without that a lot of people will choose other state schools that are outside of Alaska. I think our state schools are really good at keeping people in Alaska. We should use these schools as a way to keep people here to help our job force. I feel that it’s a silly move to sort of push our students outside of Alaska instead of keeping them here.” -Gunnar Keizer, Music
“I don’t know. Funding has to be cut somewhere, but I don’t know how much money was being spent on the scholarship and how much money they’re saving. I guess I’m not a fan of them cutting it, but I’m a student, so…” -Jazlyn Lust, Music and Education
“I think that anything scholarship or grant that they can offer to make life easier for students is essential for the diversity that exists in the campuses. I think that to eliminate any of them is foolish and we could lose students, and we could lose population. And our numbers could go down which would decrease the possibility of other kinds of funding which this university depends on and the state depends on. It is essential to maintaining a population not just at the local or the university level, but at the state level if we are to be a viable force in the global community that UAF is. It would be bad. I believe that people are looking for places to save money in the state, and taking it from scholarships and grants is completely the wrong way to do it.” -Leslie Drumhiller, Masters of Oral History
“I think that what the fiscal crisis has shown us is that it’s imperative to establish economic diversity in our state. we can’t afford to be addicted to oil anymore, and I think that the only realistic path forward to breaking that addiction and establishing a diverse economy is investing in education. Especially in higher education. The Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska Education Grant are two excellent tools that we have to invest in that higher education and to produce strong graduates… While I definitely understand the need to cut programs, these particular programs are not coming at the expense of other critical government services. They’re things that are not placing a burden on the state. They’re things that we need.” -Mathew Carrick, Economics and Master in Business Administration