Notice went out to 12,000 Alaska students on Tuesday afternoon that money for their grants and scholarships isn’t currently available for the next school year.
But it’s not because the funds were vetoed from the budget. The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education wrote in the message that funds for the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grant aren’t currently available and require legislative action to be restored.
The commission is a state corporation tasked with planning for higher education and administering financial aid programs.
Funding for a program that provides money for students from Alaska to attend the University of Washington School of Medicine is also unavailable.
At issue is nearly $350 million in Alaska’s Higher Education Investment Fund. Each year, funds from nearly every state program get swept into a constitutionally-mandated savings account. Typically lawmakers vote to put the money back into the programs it was designated for. But that process requires a supermajority of the Legislature — three-quarters of them — to vote to put the money back. This year, that didn’t happen.
It’s also unusual for the Higher Education Fund to be included in the funding sweep — historically, that hasn’t happened.
According to data from the University of Alaska, nearly 1 in 5 students gets a merit-based Alaska Performance Scholarship. Altogether, the performance scholarships and education funds support more than 5,000 students with more than $15 million in financial aid each year.
Alaska has a lot going on right now.
Never miss the important parts with insightful (and entertaining) news from The Signal, the best weekly Alaska news email.
- An email from Alaska's former first lady sheds new light on the actions that drove Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott from office, suggesting he may have invited a woman into his room, newly released emails show.
- A new Alaska group hopes to overhaul the state's oil and gas tax credit system through a ballot initiative called the Fair Share Act.
- Alaska regulators are considering whether the state should continue replenishing a rural telephone and internet service fund or shut it down.
- Hunters said the proposed Ambler Road would be closed to the public, while conservationists said it would hurt caribou and other wildlife needed by area villages.