Alaska Legislature to support students’ lawsuit to maintain scholarship fund

A sign says University of Alaska Anchorage in the snow
The University of Alaska Anchorage sign. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

The Alaska Legislature is supporting the lawsuit by university students against Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration to protect a fund that pays for scholarships.

A joint council of the House of Representatives and Senate on Monday approved filing a legal brief backing the lawsuit.

The Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund has held more than $400 million. Each year, money from the fund pays for Alaska Performance Scholarships, need-based Alaska Education Grants and the state program for medical students, known as WWAMI.

Dunleavy’s administration has said that the money in the fund must be swept into a state savings account if three-quarters of both legislative chambers don’t vote each year to maintain the funding. That vote failed last year.

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said emptying the fund would leave students uncertain about whether the scholarships would be available.

“The medical students are on a long-term program, and for them not to know from year to year to year how they’re going to be supported would be quite devastating,” he said.

Dunleavy has said that he supports funding the scholarships.

The Legislative Council’s vote to support the filing was 12 to 1.

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Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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