Several years ago, the University of Alaska Coalition of Student Leaders (the Coalition), which consists of representatives of each University of Alaska student government office state-wide, drafted a piece of legislation to provide for the financial needs of students who are not eligible for private scholarships, those who do not qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, and for those that the Pell Grant does not provide sufficient funding.
The bill was passed, receiving $500,000 in funding and the Alaska Achievers Incentive Program (AAIP) -- the first state-funded needs-based scholarship program in Alaska -- was born. $500,000 might sound like a lot of money, but in reality, it is enough funding for only 50 students per academic year. State-wide enrollment in the University of Alaska is approximately 30,000 students. 50 students is approximately 0.2 percent of our current population.
The Coalition, and by extension the entirety of the University of Alaska student government, requests that the AAIP be expanded to include a merit-based scholarship, which would be available to students who meet certain GPA minimums, in addition to the needs-based scholarship that is now available.
In February 2010, our student government leaders will travel to Juneau to advocate for the Alaska Achievers' Incentive Program (AAIP) to include a merit-based scholarship and to increase the amount of funding that is allocated to the needs-based scholarship.
On Friday, September 25, 2009, the University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a 7 percent tuition increase to take effect in 2011. Now more than ever Alaskan students must have access to the needs-based and merit-based scholarships that will exist under AAIP.
The Coalition is currently organizing a campaign to include letters, emails, and phone calls of support to be addressed to our Senators and Representatives, letting them know that their constituents support the AAIP. Community members who are interested in participating in this campaign should contact the Student Union at Kenai Peninsula College on K-Beach by calling 262-0339 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelsey Dorman, Kenai River Campus Student Union President
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