University of Alaska will cover thousands of student scholarships until lawmakers reach deal

aerial photo of buildings and trees
The University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. (Photo: University of Alaska)

Legislators voted earlier this week to avoid a partial government shutdown, but they couldn’t agree on how to fund college scholarships and grants that support more than 5,000 Alaska students.

So that money is not currently in the state budget. 

But the University of Alaska is stepping in.

Interim UA President Pat Pitney announced Thursday that the university system will honor the scholarships and grants for current and incoming students until the Legislature takes action.

“Our students rely on these important financial aid tools to fund their education, and they have worked incredibly hard to earn these awards,” Pitney said.

The Legislature is expected to meet for another special session starting Aug. 2 to resolve the scholarship issue, along Permanent Fund dividends and a suite of other budget disagreements.

RELATED: Dunleavy vetoes PFD funding from state budget, says dividends must be funded in special session

Pitney said she’s confident that the Legislature will fund the scholarships and grants in August.

“There was no intention by the Legislature to impact these scholarships or grants,” said her statement. “Rather, these critical student aid programs are an unintended victim of larger budget negotiations and the necessary ‘reverse sweep.'”

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The financial aid programs caught in the Legislature’s crosshairs are the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the needs-based Alaska Education Grant.

Also impacted is the state’s contribution to the WWAMI medical school program, said Pitney.

She urged people to reach out to the governor and Legislature about funding the programs.

Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon contributed to this report.

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