Low cost, location lure students to UAA

Choosing a college is no small task. There are many variables to consider among schools, such as cost, location, quality of education and campus life, all of which may affect a student’s choice. What is it about UAA that attracts Alaskans as well as out-of-state applicants?

For senior Liz Enslow, the answer was simple.

“The price was right,” she said

Enslow, who is pursuing a degree in business management, said there was a huge difference in cost between UAA and Oklahoma State. She attended Oklahoma State before returning to Alaska.

“It was about $17,000 per year in Oklahoma, and I was staying in the dorms,” Enslow said.

Enslow said that UAA costs her about $5,000 a semester and that she lives in an apartment now. Both school costs were without books, she said.

However, cost was not the only factor that affected her decision to return to Alaska.

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“I didn’t like Oklahoma. I was in the pre-vet program and there were some poor professors,” she said.

Enslow also said that UAA matches up pretty well against other schools, although she thinks there is room for improvement.

“The education you get here is as good as out of state,” she said. “The student activities are not as good, but they (UAA) are working on them each year.”

Freshman Cody Russell had a different opinion about UAA overall in comparison to other schools.

“Mediocre,” he said. “But the dorms are nicer than some others. The education’s not bad, but it’s not great either.”

Russell, an undeclared student from the Matanuska Valley, said that he chose UAA partly because of cost but mostly because of convenience. Russell said that living on campus here is much more convenient than having to travel all the time.

“I was looking at Manoa and with (Western Undergraduate Exchange), it would have only been $4,000 more to go there,” he said. “But I’d be flying back for Christmas, summer and other things.”

WUE is a program that allows college students in western states to enroll in college programs at a reduced tuition level: 150 percent of in-state resident tuition. WUE tuition costs are often much less than out-of-state tuition prices for most colleges in the program.

UAA attracts its fair share of out-of-state students who are willing to look for more than just a conveniently located or cheap education.

Woodruff Lapukta, a first-year UAA student from Florida, said he could have gone to school anywhere but chose UAA because he was personally drawn to Alaska.

Lapukta studies film and writing, and he felt Alaska was the perfect place to develop his skills.

“The intrigue of the state inspires me,” said Lapukta.

Warren Roselius, a UAA graduate, said that at the time he chose UAA because it was local and cheap.

Since graduating six years ago, Roselius, who was born and raised in Alaska, has traveled and studied elsewhere in the world, such as Australia. He said the quality of a school is reliant upon several factors.

“It depends on the class and teacher,” he said. “I’d say UAA was medium to good.”

Roselius also said that different parts of the world have different education styles, a factor that makes it difficult to directly compare schools.

“Australia follows a more British system, which is stricter than here,” he said.

Ted Malone, director of Student Financial Aid, helped shed some light on some of the cost benefits of UAA.

“On a national level, UAA is in the lower third when it comes to overall cost,” he said.

Malone said that the tuition at UAA is in the medium price range, but it stacks up pretty well against other schools overall.

“Some schools have low tuition and colossal fees,” he said. “The University of California system, for example, has some of the lowest tuition, but very high student fees.”

Malone agreed that one of UAA’s greatest advantages is its affordability, even for students paying non-resident tuition.

“It’s very affordable,” he said. “A student on WUE at UAA would pay 150 percent of in-state tuition. That’s cheaper than, say, in-state tuition at Oregon.”

Malone said that of the 8,794 financial aid applications, only 735, or 8.35 percent, are from non-resident students.

“I’d estimate, overall, that 90 to 95 percent of students at UAA are Alaska residents,” Malone said. “A majority of those are from the Anchorage bowl.”

The majority of students are choosing UAA because of its in-state location and low costs, although Malone said it is difficult to gauge how UAA stacks up against other schools.

“Alaska is so isolated, it’s hard to compare,” he said. “A lot of times we can only look at how things used to be here.”