Parnell’s proposed scholarship program nothing but beneficial

When it comes to attending college, a student’s worry is not only on their school and what they will do for work afterwards. A significant part of the college experience is paying for the education they are receiving.

Many people stay in Alaska after high school for college because of the price, because when compared to most other schools, UAA is cheap. But this still doesn’t counter the fact that many students are forced to either take out student loans because they don’t qualify for financial aid, or they must work through the entirety of their college career.

But Gov. Sean Parnell is looking to help relieve some of the pressure for Alaskans who opt to stay in the state.

By creating a $400 million endowment fund, if an Alaskan high school student has an “A” average in high school they will be awarded with a 100 percent tuition scholarship. A “B” average will earn the opportunity to have 75 percent of their tuition paid for. For those who finish with a “C” average will have 50 percent of their tuition paid for.

The thought behind this new scholarship program is an amazing opportunity for high school students. It will give more people an opportunity to have a significant portion of their tuition paid for, and still be merit based.

The idea is commendable and would be a great option for seniors that are graduating in the coming years. This isn’t to say that there are no options or efforts being made to draw high school seniors into the University. The UA Scholars program gives those who qualify up to $1,375 per semester for a total of eight semesters.

The main problem with the UA Scholars program is that is only benefits the top 10 percent of each school’s graduating class. Not that a high standard for a merit based scholarship is a bad thing, but it seems as though many of the top 10 percent of each class ends up going out of state for school anyways. Many leave because they get a higher dollar value scholarship from out of state schools for some of the same requirements as the UA Scholars program gives.

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With tuition rising every year, more or less, $1,375 just doesn’t go all that far. It definitely helps, but as a reward for getting great grades in high school, it is somewhat diminutive.

The program that Parnell is suggesting would be based on GPA alone, instead of a comparison to the rest of a student’s class.

If the program ends up being largely self sustainable like Parnell says it will be, this could definitely draw a lot more Alaskans into the University of Alaska system.

The growth that would be encouraged by the institution of this scholarship program would be nothing but beneficial to the UA system. A consistent influx of students and consistent growth of each UA campus could potentially result in more undergraduate degree programs, master’s programs and doctorates. And an increase of graduate programs could draw more people, other than locals, into the Universities.

The legislature must approve the use of the $400 million to start this program up. It will increase the quality of the University system and consequently the development of Alaska.