As with most everything in today's world, the cost of higher education isn't going down anytime soon. College students in the United States, including University of Alaska students, constantly have to juggle their increasing education expenses along with their general cost of living. Indirect expenses, from gasoline to mandatory fees, continue to escalate and erode student bank accounts. Full-time students have an especially difficult time as there are only so many hours in a day and a full-time job is generally out of the question while going to school.
Because most students aren't wealthy and come from families that can't afford to finance college educations, without some form of financial aid many would not be able to attend Kenai Peninsula College. There are many public and private loan programs, but loans have to be repaid and they generally incur some degree of interest and further add to the cost of an education.
The best bet for students is to pursue grants and scholarships. Both require the student to be proactive in terms of preparing scholarship essays and completing applications, but the rewards are obvious: financial assistance that doesn't require repayment.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education statistics from 2002-03 (the most recent statistics available) the Federal Pell Grant Program awarded grants to 4,568 recipients in Alaska and the average award was $2,256. Alaska's population, according to the 2004 U.S. Census bureau, was 655,435. By comparison, Wyoming with a 2004 census of 506,529 had 8,129 Pell grants awarded almost double the number of recipients in Alaska.
There are many scholarship opportunities for students attending KPC. Many campus-specific scholarships can be applied for through the KPC financial aid office. In addition, the University of Alaska Foundation recently released the 2006-07 statewide scholarship application packets. The packets are available online for downloading and printing from the KPC home page at www.kpc.alaska.edu. The packet contains a list of 50 scholarships. Students can apply for a maximum of four different scholarships with the same application. The application must include the student's most recent transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a one-page personal essay describing educational goals and objectives, as well as future plans for utilizing the degree. Some of the scholarships state a preference for students with financial need, and that information needs to be included in the essay. If applying for more than one scholarship, a complete copy of the entire scholarship application (including letters of reference, transcripts and essay) is required for each scholarship being applied for.
Many scholarships go unawarded because of a lack of applicants. All Alaska students needing financial assistance for their education should apply for as many grants and scholarships as they qualify for. Often the same personal essay can be used for different applications.
Contact the financial aid office at the Kenai River Campus at 262-0332 for more information on how to navigate through the world of financial aid.
Short courses available throughout semester
Even though it's now week five of the fall semester, there are a number of one- and two-credit classes that begin in October and November. For a complete list of the courses coming up throughout the semester, refer to page 37 of the fall course schedule. You can also find short courses within the fall schedule on the KPC Web site at www.kpc.alaska.edu. Click on "Academic and Vocational Education," and choose "Course Schedule and Bulletin."
Examples of upcoming short courses include several one-credit computer skills classes with start dates ranging through Nov. 9.
A short fiction one-credit course will be taught by Anchorage author Richard Chiappone in a two-day format Oct. 21-22. Chiappone published "Water of an Undetermined Depth," a collection of short stories, in 2003 and received critical acclaim.
Chiappone's stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Playboy, Missouri Review, Zyzzyva and Gray's Sporting Journal. Chiappone also is a senior affiliate editor at Alaska Quarterly Review.
Other late-starting, short format classes include a geology class taught by adjunct faculty member Ed Berg. The course includes a field trip.
Maria Allison, a local musician, will again offer her appreciating opera class. The course will begin Nov. 2 and run through Dec. 7 from 5:30 to 8:15 p.m.
Eastern philosophy and religion, taught by Dr. Paul Landen, is a new one-credit course beginning Nov. 8 and finishing up Dec. 6. The class will be offered in the evenings from 7 to 9:45 p.m.
Short courses are available for registration up until the first day of class. Students must register at Campus Services. For more information, contact the admissions office at the Kenai River Campus at 262-0330.
This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, community relations coordinator at Kenai Peninsula College.
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