ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Students at the University of Alaska, Anchorage are calling for the continuation of the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska Education Grant after both items were considered to be cut during the past two legislative sessions.
The student body president at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Alec Burris, says the Alaska state senate has twice voted to cut the two programs. "We want to make it known that we don't support cutting those programs or altering them in anyway."
The union of students at UAA unanimously passed a resolution in support of the programs, writing that, "The APS incentivizes high school students to achieve higher grades and take more difficult classes while also allowing them to stay in Alaska for their education."
Burris, a first-generation college student, says he wouldn't have been able to go to college without the APS. "The 15,000 students at our university are all in support of these programs because what they do is ensure that first-generation college students like me are able to attend university, we're able to graduate on time, not taking remedial classes and really succeed and achieve our destinies."
When asked about the Republican Senate Majority stance on the issue, press secretary Daniel McDonald, referred to Senate Bill 103 passed in 2017 that aimed to "phase out the Alaska Performance Scholarship and redirect those funds to all students."
Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) spoke in favor of the bill at that time saying that the APS is not achieving its desired results. "Since 2011 when the Alaska Performance Scholarship was created, 47,907 students have graduated from high school in Alaska, only 8,606 of whom received the APS. The total payout to the approximately 18 percent of high school graduates was $48.8 million. Of the recipients, 26 percent currently need remediation when they enter college. "
Democrats who make up the Senate Minority Caucus have supported the APS, in a statement, Sen. Tom Begich (D - Anchorage) said cutting the program would amount to balancing "the budget on the backs of children."
“The Alaska Performance Scholarship is vital to Alaska’s students and future workforce. The scholarship is an integral factor helping 71% of students to stay in Alaska for college. It has a significant impact on readiness with 97% of students not needing remedial courses," said Begich.