Alaska Pacific University is adding a new scholarship for low-income students who are eligible for the Pell Grant. The school also recently lowered tuition costs and hopes both measures will help attract new students.
Carter Caywood is the director of admissions for Alaska Pacific University. He says if a student is either fully or partially Pell eligible, they qualify for APU’s promise tuition grant:
“APU will use a unique combination of other scholarship grants and discounts to help them basically fill their tuition costs,” Caywood said. “If they are fully Pell eligible, they pay nothing for tuition out of pocket. If they’re partially Pell eligible, they just have to make up the difference that the Pell grant doesn’t cover up to whatever the maximum Pell is for that year – APU will cover the rest.”
Ian McDermod has already gone through the application process. He says APU’s scholarship programs and lowered tuition costs have drawn in students like him from across the U.S.
McDermod is a freshman from New Hampshire, and is in APU’s outdoor studies program. He says he mostly applied to schools in the Northeast
“Initially, I didn’t think that I would be going to school so far away, but when I received all my applications back, all the schools that I got accepted back, and all of the money I had received, it came down to a few different colleges, and APU just seemed like the best option as far as affordability,” he said.
McDermod says affordability was a top priority for him.
“I know that there’s so many kids who just go into endless amounts of college debt,” he said. “I know some kinds have six-digit numbers as far as college debt goes, and I knew that was something I didn’t want to happen.”
Tuition runs about $19,500 per year at APU. And McDermod says he’s only had to pay about $7,000 out of pocket so far, much of that going toward room and board at the university – which isn’t included in the tuition price.
Carter Caywood says stories like McDermod’s are becoming more common, due in part to the school’s outreach efforts both online and through traditional methods like open houses and college fairs. But, for many potential students, he says it comes down to cost.
“You hear private education, you think very expensive, but if you look at a lot of these schools, especially along the West Coast, the Pacific Northwest, even the state schools, we’re exponentially more affordable even at full price,” Caywood said. “And that doesn’t consider the fact that almost every student that comes to APU who asks for one, gets a scholarship paid.”
Tuition at Whitman College, a private liberal arts school in Washington State, costs about $44,000 – more than double APU.
Caywood says currently about 60 percent of APU’s undergraduate students are from outside Alaska, but the school has recently bolstered its in-state recruitment efforts.
He says APU’s enrollment has been stagnant over the last few years, but he expects enrollment to jump next fall.
“There’s a number of different things that we’re doing, but it would be hard to disassociate the changes in our tuition and the new scholarship programs that we’ve rolled out from this bump in interest in APU,” Caywood said.
The first recipients of the APU Promise Grant will see reductions in their tuition starting next fall.
APU is hosting a FAFSA workshop and APU Promise Grant assistance Saturday from 11am until 2 pm.