5 Scholarships for Students in Alaska

scholarships-ALASKA-COVERWilliam Shatner famously would begin every episode of the classic sci-fi series Star Trek with the same monologue, opening with, “Space. The final frontier…” Not so fast, Captain Kirk. Seventeen years before Shatner first donned his Starfleet-issue golden sweater, another land had already been coined as the “Last Frontier:” The state of Alaska, admitted into the union in 1959. The territory had belonged to the US since the 1867, when William Seward, who had recently recovered from an assassination attempt on the night his assailant’s co-conspirators killed President Lincoln, purchased the land from the Russian Empire.

The decision of the purchase received mixed reviews in the states, with some claiming Seward hadn’t fully recovered from his wounds, deriding the purchase as “Seward’s Folly.” Nearly one hundred years after the purchase, when Alaska became the 49th state, this sentiment had all but vanished. The largest state in the union (by far) is often seen as mysterious by those who have never visited, picturing barren wastelands of snow and penguins wandering the streets.

However, the picture couldn’t be more incorrect. Alaska is packed with a wonderful communities, eager to teach their histories and show others the natural and sublime brilliance of their state. The youth of the state is brought up in a similar fashion, priding themselves in growing up in the shadow of Denali. To Alaskan students who aspire to go to college one day, joining many other Alaskans in bringing the pride of their state to higher learning, look no further. Here are some scholarship opportunities for young residents of the Last Frontier:

AlaskAdvantage Education Grant

Deadline: June 30, 2016

Amount: Varying

Alaska’s state government provides financial assistance to those in need through this grant, which applies to Alaska residents who plan to attend college at an institution within the state. Applicants with exceptional academic performance in college admissions exams, such as scoring in the 75th percentile on the SAT or ACT exam, are given preference, but anyone who demonstrates significant need through the FAFSA form is considered for aid.

Inspired by the federal government’s Leverage Educational Assistance Partnership Program (LEAP), AlaskAdvantage is funded by the Alaska Student Loan Corporation. The latter organization is a larger umbrella organization that oversees all financial aid and loans in the Last Frontier, and they fund AlaskAdvantage through LEAP as long as a certain number of requirements are met.

To apply for the scholarship, students are asked fill out their FAFSA forms early, as awards are rolled out in order of need. The financial rewards stretch anywhere from $500-$4,000 depending on need, but every reward is renewable as long as the student completes 15 credits per semester.

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Alaska Performance Scholarship

Deadline: June 30, 2016

Amount: $4,755

The second of two directly state-government-funded scholarships available for Alaskan students, the Alaska Performance Scholarship is different from the AlaskAdvantage award in a few key ways. First of all, unlike the AA grant, this scholarship is entirely dependent on a student’s academic performance, with the financial stipends varying based on test scores and weighted GPA, with three levels.

The highest possible award, the first level, renewable for four semesters, maxes out at $4,755 and requires students to have a 3.5 GPA, 25 ACT, and 1680 SAT scores. The second level goes up to $3,566 and is open to those with a 3.0 GPA, 23 ACT, and 1560 scores. Level 3, the third and final category, asks for 2.5 GPA, 21 ACT, and 1450 SAT scores, and awards qualifiers with $2,378.

All levels are open to Alaska residents who plan to attend school in the state, but the financial rewards, renewable for up to four semesters, cannot exceed the price of tuition per semester for the school.

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University of Alaska-Anchorage Scholarships

Deadline: February 15, 2017

Amount: Varying

When most think of Alaska, the first thing that comes to mind usually isn’t a city of thousands, bustling with daily activity and industry. Push all images of snowcapped landscapes, grizzly bears, and ice-fishing aside; the city of Anchorage represents the Alaskan spirit in an equal or greater manner to any other image. Settled in 1914, Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and, possibly, the most isolated major city on earth. It is nearly 10 hours by air from most of the industrialized world, but its location acts as much as a bonding agent than a crowbar.

Anchorage acts as a hub for commercial and industrial flights, a stopover for those traveling internationally, and a central location for Alaskan commerce. Smack in the center of Anchorage lies the University of Alaska-Anchorage which, with an enrollment of nearly 20,000, is the largest institution of higher learning in the state. UAA prides itself on providing a top-notch education for Alaskans, reflected in their extensive in-state scholarship program. With over a dozen various grants for students coming from within state borders, something for everyone can be found through the UAA scholarship program.

Alaskan students are encouraged to check out their website for more information, and to find a scholarship that suits your needs to attend college in Alaska’s business hub.

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Tribal Health Consortium Scholarship

 Deadline: June 3, 2016

Amount: $5,000

In the lore of historical geography, the term “Pangea” is widely known: the mass of continents, conglomerated into one supercontinent before breaking apart to form the seven separate land masses we know today. However, the phrase “Beringia” is less known, and perhaps much more important. It refers to a land bridge, a route of human migration connecting what would one day become northeast Russia to the western coast of Alaska. Anthropologists believe it is via this land mass, now submerged, that the first indigenous peoples entered Alaska.

To this day, descendants of these nomadic peoples remain, ingrained in Alaskan culture, including the Aleut, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures. In 1997, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, or ANTHC, was established in Anchorage to provide medicinal and health services to these native communities. As part of the non-profit program, the ANTHC established a scholarship for Native American students interested in entering a field related to healthcare.

To be eligible for one of the ten ANTHC scholarships, Native American students must be permanent Alaskan residents, entering a health care field, and currently enrolled in a formal training program. The ten scholarships award $5,000 each per academic year, which can go towards tuition, books, room & board, or various other fees. To renew the award, scholars are expected to maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 and maintain status as a full-time student.

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Arctic Education Foundation Scholarships

Deadline: Varying

Amount: Varying

The Arctic circle, the polar region located at the very “top” of the earth, is home to more than just Santa Claus and Polar Bears. The northernmost region of Alaska, contains the Arctic National Wildlife refuge and the sparsely populated towns of Barrow and Nome. These areas, consisting largely of Iñupiat indigenous peoples, cannot be reached via highway, instead, visitors must resort to snowmobiles or small planes. In the late days of June, the sun never sets on this region of Alaska, making it the true land of the ice, snow, and the midnight sun, in the immortal words of Robert Plant.

Alaska embraces their citizens who make this area their home through programs such as the Arctic Education Foundation, which was established in 1977 to offer equal footing to the Iñupiat population of the area when it comes time for them to apply for higher education. Numerous scholarships are available through the AEF, ranging from simple financial aid programs in the vein of AlaskAdvantage all the way to the esoteric Ivalu Scholarship, awarded to applicants who demonstrate the Iñupiat values of respect for elders, humor, knowledge, and compassion, among others.

Residents of the “North Slope” are proud of their beautiful homeland, which truly illustrates a community coexisting with harsh weather conditions and isolation, and are encouraged by the AEF to aspire to bring their small village values to their higher learning opportunities.

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