Opportunity of a lifetime

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Across the state, Alaska's high school seniors are humming the march, "Pomp and Circumstance," as they prepare to receive diplomas that will launch them into the next part of their life.

The class of 2011 -- from Barrow to Metlakatla -- is embarking with a powerful advantage over every previous graduating class in our state's history: Graduates may qualify for an Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) to help them pay for college, university, or trade school in Alaska.

APS, with award amounts between $2,378 and $4,755 per college year, is a transformational opportunity for students and their families. This scholarship opens doors for graduates from every part of the state by offering an incentive for hard work.

As part of my Administration's commitment to improve K-12 schools and prepare students for jobs of the future, I fought hard to create the Alaska Performance Scholarship in 2010. It's an invitation to excellence for students, teachers, parents and schools. Alaska is challenging every student to work hard and take more rigorous courses throughout high school. When we raise the bar our kids step up their game.

This year the Legislature joined with me to fund the scholarships. In addition, we were successful in setting aside $400 million for a sustainable funding mechanism so future graduates will also have this opportunity.

To apply for an Alaska Performance Scholarship, students will complete the free FAFSA one-stop application by June 30. More details, along with a FAFSA application, can be found at the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education web site: akadvantage.alaska.gov.

I believe in our young people, and their ability to achieve their dreams. The time is now for them to grasp the golden ring of education, and make that leap from what has been to what could be in their lives.

Congratulations to the class of 2011. No matter if you're in a city school, village school or home school, as you consider your next move, take a look at what Alaska's educational institutions have to offer.

And now, take a look at how Alaska has stepped up with Alaska Performance Scholarships to reward you for your hard work. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Sean Parnell is governor of Alaska.

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