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State Senators Offer Alternative Scholarship Plan

By | March 30, 2012

The Governor will likely get a scholarship bill from the Senate this session. But it might not be the one he wants. The Senate Finance Committee today (Friday) approved a plan setting into place the method for granting financial assistance for graduates of Alaska High Schools who want to attend an in-state university or vocational school. It will open a way to spend the earnings of a $400-million fund set up by the legislature last year. The governor originally presented the scholarship for students who meet a strict course of study and performance. An issue arose, however, of how to provide support for those students who, for various reasons, do not meet those prescribed standards. The Senate version of the bill will allow students with G.E.D. high school equivalency diplomas to qualify for assistance, and will require exceptions be given to students who were unable to meet the governor’s standard because of illness or because the local school did not offer the course work necessary. Diane Barrens, the executive director of the Alaska Commission on Post-Secondary Education, said the administration has some concerns about the changes the Senate made.

“The Governor remains very committed to the program that he has been an advocate for, for the last two years.  So we are very interesting in seeing a fund established.  But we would like to do so without a dilution of the message behind the Alaska Performance Scholarship.”

Under the bill, two-thirds of the money from the earnings of the Higher Education Investment Fund will go to Performance Scholarships for those graduates who qualify under the governor’s standards. The other third will be set aside for the Alaska Advantage Scholarship for those who use an alternative method of qualifying. The bill will next appear on the Senate floor.

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