University of Alaska will cover student scholarships until lawmakers reach deal

University of Alaska Southeast (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO
Students at the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau in 2013. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Legislators voted earlier this week to avoid a partial government shutdown, but they couldn’t agree on how to fund college scholarships to support more than  5,400 Alaska students. So those funds are not currently in the state budget. 

But the University of Alaska announced Thursday that it will honor the scholarships for current and incoming students. 

In a statement, Interim President Pat Pitney said she was confident the legislature would resolve the funding of these scholarships during the special session in August.

The Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska Education Grant programs provide students across the state with vital funds for their studies. Most of them are students at the University of Alaska. 

The University of Alaska Southeast had about 150 students who received scholarships last year. The university sent out a message to the students letting them know that it’s carefully monitoring the situation, says Lori Klein, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Student Affairs.

“While waiting, of course, is very difficult and challenging. We want students to stick with their plans for the fall, and to come to us and to stay in state and to plan on having those funds,” Klein said.

She also says the program funds directly impact the state’s future.

“These funds impact our future state leaders,” she said. “They impact their future state residents, our business owners, our professionals. You know, many of our students will stay in state after they get their degrees and they will contribute back to their home communities.”

The legislature reconvenes for a special session in August. Klein says she hopes by then legislators can bring certainty to students for the upcoming school year.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include information from a statement by University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney. The headline has been updated to include that the university system will honor the scholarships.

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