Students considering attending the University of Alaska Southeast who want to check out one of the campuses can travel for less if they take the Alaska Marine Highway System.
The CamPass, a partnership announced this month between UAS and the AMHS, will give prospective students for any of the university's three campuses a 50 percent discount on passenger ferry tickets.
"I think this will give a lot of the students that live, especially in Alaska, it will make it easier for them to come visit," said Jodi Barnes, a student advisor at the university.
The CamPass discount is available only during "Alaska Time" - a label the AMHS puts on the slow months between Oct. 1 and April 30, when most ferry passengers are from Alaska.
"(Alaska Time) is when we try to do as many things that we can for Alaskans," said George Capacci, general manager of the AMHS.
Because the ferry system receives federal money, the system cannot give discounts to people simply because they are Alaska residents, Capacci said. Instead, AMHS has promotions such as the CamPass, as well as the permanent fund dividend special, which offers unlimited travel during Alaska Time for $500, allowing the driver of a vehicle and children under 4 to travel for free, and the trip six pack, which gives a person a free trip when five tickets are purchased.
"There's a lot of capacity on the ships in the wintertime, quite frankly," Capacci said.
Approximately 150 prospective students visit the UAS campuses - in Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau - per year. Most of the visits are in the summer, but the second busiest visiting season is the spring, when students will be able to take advantage of the CamPass, said Kevin Myers, the public information officer for UAS.
The university has approximately 300 first-year students per year.
"The more that people visit the campus, the more (enrollment) goes up," Myers said.
"It's the on-site, rather than the online visitation that actually sways the decision to attend a particular school or campus," said UAS Chancellor John Pugh. "The opportunity to get more potential students to visit our UAS campuses means a greater chance of getting them to return as students."
Prospective students will arrange for the discount through the UAS enrollment office, said Sharon Gaiptman, marketing director for the AMHS. The discount is available for the student and a parent, guardian or high school guidance counselor, but is not valid with any other discount. If cabin space is available, the discount will apply to that, too.
Though the partnership will increase ridership on the ferry system, Capacci said, the major benefit of the pass for the ferry system is the good community ties it creates between the ferry and Southeast Alaska communities.
"We're trying to be good neighbors here with UAS and Alaskans that we serve," he said. "... If we can help them with travel arrangements to help them come visit the campus, that's a good thing for them, and it gets some travelers on our ships."
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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