Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

02/16/2009 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:00:38 AM Start
08:01:04 AM Overview(s) Department of Education - No Child Left Behind; Minimum Expenditure by District
09:37:25 AM HB94
10:05:38 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Overview: No Child Left Behind - What it TELECONFERENCED
is, what it requires, what it funds, what
it doesn't fund, and how it works in
+ Overview: Dept. of Education, Minimum TELECONFERENCED
Expenditure by District (AS 14.17.520)
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 94-POSTSECONDARY SCHOLARSHIPS                                                                                              
9:37:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  94, "An Act creating  a postsecondary scholarship                                                               
program  for  Alaska  residents based  on  high  achievement  and                                                               
financial need."                                                                                                                
9:38:01 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DAVID   GUTTENBERG,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
introduced HB 94, as prime sponsor.   He characterized HB 94 as a                                                               
needs-  and merit-based  scholarship  bill.   He  noted that  the                                                               
National Center for  Public Policy has given Alaska  an "F" grade                                                               
in terms  of affordability of college.   People are not  going to                                                               
college because of financial cost  and "burdens."  Qualifications                                                               
related  to  the  bill  have  to do  with  defining  "needs"  and                                                               
considering    a   person's    grade    point   average    (GPA).                                                               
Representative Guttenberg said he  thinks the grade point average                                                               
is set too high  in the bill.  He explained  that a single parent                                                               
with two kids,  who is working two jobs, should  not have to jump                                                               
too high  a hurdle  in terms of  his/her GPA.   He said  he would                                                               
like to see  the person who has graduated [from  high school] but                                                               
has not gone directly to college to "come back" to school.                                                                      
9:43:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GUTTENBERG,  in   response   to  Chair   Seaton,                                                               
confirmed the bill, as currently  written, would require a person                                                               
to have a "B" or above GPA in  order to be eligible.  In response                                                               
to a  question from Chair  Seaton, he  suggested that the  use of                                                               
the term  "qualifying postsecondary  institution" may need  to be                                                               
discussed   to  determine   whether   it  means   only  a   state                                                               
institution.   The  union  trade schools  are  covered, he  said,                                                               
"because there is  no tuition."  He added, "But  those other ones                                                               
would be qualified if they're covered under this."                                                                              
9:44:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  said it is  open for the  committee to                                                               
establish how those parameters would fall.                                                                                      
CHAIR SEATON cited page 3, lines 27-29, which read as follows:                                                                  
               (2) "qualifying postsecondary institution"                                                                       
     means a postsecondary school located  in the state that                                                                    
     is  accredited by  a national  or regional  accrediting                                                                    
     body  recognized by  the Council  for Higher  Education                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON asked  if all  the [postsecondary]  schools in  the                                                               
state, including trade schools, fall under that definition.                                                                     
9:45:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG replied  that most  are, but  not all.                                                               
He indicated  his intent  for the bill  to include  programs that                                                               
are Alaska-based but could be accredited Outside.                                                                               
9:46:57 AM                                                                                                                    
DIANE  BARRANS,   Executive  Director,   Postsecondary  Education                                                               
Commission,  Department of  Education and  Early Development,  in                                                               
response to Chair  Seaton, said the commission  agrees that there                                                               
is  unmet financial  need in  the state  that is  not covered  by                                                               
available programs.  She suggested  an administrative change that                                                               
would address whether or not the  record can reflect the level of                                                               
authority  the commission  has to  modify  or add  rules for  the                                                               
proposed  program.    She  said   when  insufficient  funding  is                                                               
available, "we  are to look to  those with the greatest  need and                                                               
address  their need  first."   She said  it would  be helpful  to                                                               
specify  a  maximum  award  amount  in  the  bill  or  allow  the                                                               
commission,  by regulation,  to  set the  amount.   Without  that                                                               
guideline, decisions would have to  be made regarding how far the                                                               
money  should  be  spread  when  less  than  adequate  funds  are                                                               
9:49:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON asked Ms. Barrans to  confirm she is saying that the                                                               
bill, as  currently written,  may result  in the  neediest person                                                               
receiving everything while other needy students receive nothing.                                                                
MS. BARRANS  answered that is  correct.  Regarding  how financial                                                               
need is determined, she noted that  the language on page 2, lines                                                               
20-21, references  the Free Application  for Federal  Student Aid                                                               
(FAFSA).   The  inclusion of  this  in the  bill, she  indicated,                                                               
ensures  that all  students seeking  funds  through the  proposed                                                               
program  would  be  seeking  other  federal  funds  first.    She                                                               
explained that  FAFSA works  by collecting  information regarding                                                               
current or  prior year  income and  assets of  the parent  of the                                                               
student on  whose behalf the FAFSA  is being filed.   The formula                                                               
is  complex and  - based  on that  information -  calculates what                                                               
funds   should  be   available  to   pay  the   estimated  family                                                               
contribution (EFC).   The unmet  need of the student  is whatever                                                               
cost is  left over after  subtracting the  EFC and the  amount of                                                               
aid.  In  the case of an independent student,  just the student's                                                               
income and assets would be considered in that formula.                                                                          
9:52:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BARRANS,  in  response to  a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Gardner  regarding summer  or part-time  jobs,  said the  formula                                                               
takes  into  consideration earnings  and  assets  of the  student                                                               
based  on the  prior year.   Typically,  she said,  the FAFSA  is                                                               
filled out  each year  between January  and March.   There  is no                                                               
preset contribution  that the student  would be expected  to have                                                               
earned during that period of time, she added.                                                                                   
9:53:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON observed that the  intent of the bill is to                                                               
"encourage  the  postsecondary  administration  to  confine  this                                                               
program to  instate institutions," but "you  could probably still                                                               
provide  this  to  Alaska  residents who  were  going  to  school                                                               
outside the state  as well."  He asked Ms.  Barrans to confirm if                                                               
that is correct.                                                                                                                
9:54:02 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BARRANS   offered  her  understanding  that   "we  would  be                                                               
precluded  from making  awards to  students attending  outside of                                                               
9:54:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON directed attention  to the language on page                                                               
2, lines [4]-6, which read:                                                                                                     
     (a) There  is created  the Alaska  achievers' incentive                                                                    
     scholarship   program  to   be   administered  by   the                                                                    
     commission  for the  benefit of  eligible students  who                                                                    
     have  been  admitted   to  a  qualifying  postsecondary                                                                    
9:54:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BARRANS  cited  language  on  page  3,  lines  27-29,  [text                                                               
provided  previously], which  specifies  the location  be in  the                                                               
9:54:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER directed  attention to  page 2,  line 25,                                                               
which read:                                                                                                                     
          (3) has an unmet financial need that is not                                                                           
     less than $4,000;                                                                                                          
MS. BARRANS said that is determined on an annual basis.                                                                         
9:55:38 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. BARRANS,  in response to  Chair Seaton,  said as the  bill is                                                               
currently  written, there  is no  limit placed  on the  number of                                                               
years  that  a  person  could   apply  to  receive  the  proposed                                                               
scholarship.   The  language on  page 2,  lines 29-31,  indicates                                                               
that in order to continue  his/her eligibility, the student would                                                               
be attending  school not less than  half time and must  be making                                                               
satisfactory   progress  toward   completion  of   a  degree   or                                                               
certificate.    She said  that  would  presume that  satisfactory                                                               
progress is  a set  number of credits  being accumulated  in each                                                               
term.  In  theory, someone attending school  half-time might take                                                               
four years to earn an associate  degree and eight years to earn a                                                               
baccalaureate degree.   She  said it  might be  worth considering                                                               
the  addition of  cap either  on the  amount of  grants a  person                                                               
could  receive cumulatively  or the  number of  years the  person                                                               
would be eligible  to receive the grant.  A  person who transfers                                                               
from one institution  to another may end up spending  a number of                                                               
years  attending  school  full   time  before  receiving  his/her                                                               
MS.  BARRANS added  that  currently the  bill  language is  "wide                                                               
open" with  respect to collegiate  level; there is  no limitation                                                               
to  a  first  undergraduate  degree   or  even  to  undergraduate                                                               
studies.   She explained  that means, in  theory, a  person could                                                               
pursue  multiple  undergraduate  degrees,  move  on  to  graduate                                                               
school, and continue to qualify for the scholarship program.                                                                    
9:57:52 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON brought  up the  issue of  "professional students,"                                                               
and he  questioned whether the idea  is to keep people  in school                                                               
or to help Alaskans through school.                                                                                             
9:58:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER asked  if  there is  a standardization  of                                                               
grades between districts, such that  earning a "B" would mean the                                                               
same thing in all districts.                                                                                                    
MS. BARRANS said  she has no expertise on that  subject, thus she                                                               
deferred  to  others  in  the  department  who  might  be  better                                                               
equipped to answer the question.                                                                                                
9:59:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BARRANS, regarding  the question  of  whether or  not a  "B"                                                               
average requirement  is sensible, suggested  that there may  be a                                                               
need for an  alternative methodology to determine if  a person is                                                               
likely  to  succeed.    She  said  the  department  is  currently                                                               
promoting the  use of  a "work  keys assessment,"  which assesses                                                               
actual  competency that  may not  necessarily be  reflected in  a                                                               
10:00:53 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON said  he  would  like the  committee  and the  bill                                                               
sponsor  to work  together  toward producing  a  better means  of                                                               
10:02:17 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  BARRANS, in  response  to Chair  Seaton,  indicated that  no                                                               
further language  is needed  in the bill  regarding the  issue of                                                               
scholarship funds  being a supplement  to, not a  replacement of,                                                               
other non-loan aid;  however, she said that is an  area where the                                                               
commission's  administrative ability  to issue  regulations could                                                               
offer clarity.                                                                                                                  
10:02:28 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  observed   that  the  sponsor  statement                                                               
stipulates the number two reason  students drop out is because of                                                               
financial need; she asked what the number one reason is.                                                                        
MS. BARRANS said she could only speculate.                                                                                      
10:03:57 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.   BARRANS  suggested   that  the   committee  consider   what                                                               
institutions will be  considered for this funding.   She said the                                                               
Council for  Higher Education Accreditation focuses  its approval                                                               
on collegiate institutions.  She  said changes would be necessary                                                               
to include at least the  two vocational institutions in the state                                                               
that are nationally accredited:   the Alaska Vocational Technical                                                               
Center  (AVTEC) and  the Career  Academy.   In response  to Chair                                                               
Seaton,  she noted  that those  vocational  institutions are  the                                                               
only  two  which  are regionally  or  nationally  accredited  and                                                               
located in Alaska.  There  are providers of workforce training in                                                               
the state that  are not accredited, and  those institutions would                                                               
not be  eligible under  the proposed  bill.   She said  she would                                                               
provide the committee with a complete list.                                                                                     
[HB 94 was held over.]                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
AS 14.17.520.doc HEDC 2/16/2009 8:00:00 AM
Board of Education Resolution on Minimum Expenditure for Instruction.pdf HEDC 2/16/2009 8:00:00 AM
NCLB Information.doc HEDC 2/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 2/16/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 94 Materials.pdf HEDC 2/16/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 94
HB 94 Fiscal note.pdf HEDC 2/16/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 94
FY10 Governor's_121508 (2).pdf HEDC 2/16/2009 8:00:00 AM