The University of Alaska System created its Scholars Award in 1999. The scholarship is funded solely by the university through its land endowment and had remained at its original $11,000 since its creation until last week.
Last week the University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a proposal to increase the Scholars award by $1,000. The board agreed the minimum required credit load for a student receiving the scholarship will increase from 24 to 30 credits, beginning the second year of the award.
Director of the UA Scholars Program Lael Oldmixon says the original idea behind the award was that it would attract the top 10 percent of students from every graduating class in Alaska.
“Each school is a different size, so depending on the class size of the school there might be one student designated if the school is a small class, for example fewer than 15 students in the class. Or more awards, for example if there are 400 students in the class 40 students will get the award.”
Oldmixon says the Scholars Award is based purely on the academic performance during high school-- the student does not have to go into a specific major to qualify. She says the award is designed to help students from every corner of the state.
“The incentive part of the program was intended to attract students from all over the state including rural Alaska, much like an ambassador program. We wanted students to have the opportunity and the recognition to pursue whatever their academic and career goals are. And this can really boost a student from any community into the university.”
A year ago, Oldmixon says, the board decided it wanted to raise the award to $12,000.
“We purposed to the Board of Regents that it be $12,000. So the way that it works is that the award is paid out over eight semesters, it was that the award paid out $1375 per semester and now the award will pay out $1500 per semester. Like I said we decided to do that in recognition that the award had not increased since 1999 and two, to recognize that we still want to attract students from every community in Alaska to come to the university.”
The increase in the Scholars Award will not go into effect until fall of 2015. However, students that are already enrolled at University of Alaska will see the increase in their scholarship next year as well.