As summer comes to a close and schools ready their campuses for that exciting first week of classes, parents and young people welcome the new school year. A new school year brings fresh opportunities to earn scholarships.
One recent education policy change has the potential to be transformational for students and their families: The creation and funding of the Alaska Performance Scholarship.
In years past, high school students would scour listings and college catalogues, and might apply for scholarships in specific fields, such as science, math, or engineering. But there were few general four-year college or technical school scholarships, designed and available for all students to follow their unique dreams.
The Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) changed all that. APS is a scholarship that students earn by taking more rigorous coursework in high school, by getting good grades, and by scoring well on college entrance exams. Students may earn up to $4,755 annually in tuition and other costs associated with attending a participating postsecondary institution in Alaska.
APS is a launch pad for young Alaskans’ futures. Charting their educational destinies will help Alaskan high school students become entrepreneurs, professionals, and highly skilled trade workers.
Some will enter college without knowing what they want to do after graduation. It’s not unusual to graduate from high school without a set career path. Other students will have specific ideas in mind, such as becoming a doctor, a teacher, or inventor. Still others will want to enter the trades to become chefs, welders, hair stylists, or computer technicians.
One great thing about the Alaska Performance Scholarship is that it doesn’t dictate your dreams – it just helps you achieve them. All you have to do is study hard, step up the rigor of the coursework you take, and score well on readiness exams, such as the SAT or Work Keys.
Do these things and plan to study at an Alaska-based university, college, or approved career training center, and the State of Alaska will help you finance your postsecondary education. Hundreds of 2011 and 2012 high school graduates were eligible for the Alaska Performance Scholarship, and are now attending school in Alaska.
In addition to providing a transformational education, APS is transforming our colleges and universities. Educators report that fewer incoming post-secondary students require remedial education.
In fact, the University of Alaska reported that of the 262 Level One scholarship recipients, fewer than 9 percent needed remedial classes to be truly ready for college-level work. These Level One scholarship recipients also signed up for more hours during their first semester of college.
APS scholars have earned their way to a solid education. For our middle school or high school students, this is a worthy goal, because Alaska needs you to join the next generation of qualified workers in every field and in every Alaskan community. With your Alaska-based experience, and with the benefit of an in-state education, you represent our state’s great future. By developing and following your dreams, you’ll help Alaska become an even better place to live and raise families.
If you’re a high school student or the parent of one, be sure to visit your school’s guidance counselor early in the year, and go to gov.alaska.gov, where you can follow links to the Alaska Performance Scholarship page. There, you can learn more and download the eligibility progress checklist for your graduating year.