Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/22/2010 08:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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08:04:03 AM Start
08:04:33 AM SB224
09:26:32 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
               SB 224-POSTSECONDARY SCHOLARSHIPS                                                                            
8:04:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER announced consideration of SB 224.                                                                               
8:06:53 AM                                                                                                                    
JOMO STEWART,  staff to Senator  Meyer, recounted that  the first                                                               
hearing  on  SB 224  was  on  February 3  and  on  the second  on                                                               
February  15 when  they adopted  CSSB 224()  26-GS2771\E, but  on                                                               
February  17 the  committee received  two proposed  amendments to                                                               
the  original bill.  Recognizing that  they now  have essentially                                                               
three  different versions  of  SB  224 before  them,  he said  he                                                               
thought it would be  a good idea to take a step  back and go over                                                               
them before  crafting a  bill that  best meets  the needs  of the                                                               
He  said  at its  core,  the  governor's performance  scholarship                                                               
(GPS) is  more of a  student loan reduction program,  which seeks                                                               
to  bring college  and vocational  training within  the reach  of                                                               
more Alaskan  students. The goals,  which have  remained constant                                                               
through all  three iterations of  the bill, are to  increase high                                                               
school   graduation  rates   in  the   state,  improve   academic                                                               
performance of  students in  grades kindergarten  through twelve,                                                               
improve  preparedness   of  Alaska  students   for  postsecondary                                                               
education, improve  the quality  of educational  programs offered                                                               
by  high schools  throughout the  state, increase  the scores  of                                                               
high school students  in state colleges and in  their high school                                                               
examinations, increase  job-training opportunities in  the state,                                                               
improve postsecondary  academic achievement and  graduation rates                                                               
within the state, and expand the  pool of high school students in                                                               
the    state   who    can   pursue    postsecondary   educational                                                               
MR.  STEWART  said  the qualifications  of  the  applicants  have                                                               
remained  fairly  constant  as  well. Students  must  be  Alaskan                                                               
residents, must have applied or  intend to apply for admission to                                                               
an institution of  higher learning and do so within  six years of                                                               
graduating  from high  school,  and  have graduated  or  be in  a                                                               
position  to graduate  within six  months of  making application.                                                               
Other minimum  qualifications under the governor's  bill are less                                                               
well  defined and  read "meets  other  minimum qualifications  to                                                               
apply or continue  to be eligible for  the governor's performance                                                               
scholarship". The committee substitute  (CS)v expanded upon those                                                               
minimum  qualifications and  added  a requirement  to maintain  a                                                               
minimum GPA.                                                                                                                    
8:10:41 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  said he met  with several college  students over                                                               
the weekend, and  one thing that came out pretty  clearly and did                                                               
not seem  to have  been addressed  in the goals,  is the  need to                                                               
assist non-traditional  students to graduate from  college, which                                                               
goes back to the question he  asked earlier about why they need a                                                               
six-year  window.  He  said  he  asked  the  administration  that                                                               
question  and did  not receive  a good  answer. He  believed they                                                               
should encourage non-traditional students to graduate as well.                                                                  
8:11:30 AM                                                                                                                    
MURRAY RICHMOND,  aide to Senator  Thomas, said  the requirements                                                               
for the scholarship are all  based on high school performance, so                                                               
non-traditional students  who have  been out  of high  school for                                                               
some time may not qualify for a number of reasons.                                                                              
MR.  STEWART said  the governor's  original proposal  did address                                                               
this  in  section  (B)   under  "Qualifications  of  Applicants,"                                                               
specifically on page 4, lines 27-30, which says:                                                                                
     ...for  the purposes  of  this subparagraph,  allowable                                                                    
     circumstances  include an  Alaska resident  high school                                                                    
     student having  left the state because  of the military                                                                    
     service  of  the  student's Alaska  resident  custodial                                                                    
Later in that paragraph on page 5, lines 3-4, it states:                                                                        
        ...for purposes of this paragraph, standards for                                                                        
     extension of time must include time while the student                                                                      
     is in military service;                                                                                                    
So the governor's original proposal  did countenance a person who                                                               
might graduate, go  into a branch of the service  and thereby get                                                               
pushed past  that six-year window.  He said that during  the most                                                               
recent conflicts, there  were times when troops  were not allowed                                                               
to rotate out and under that  kind of scenario, even a person who                                                               
had gone in under a four-year  enlistment and thought he would be                                                               
out of  the military  in time to  activate his  eligibility under                                                               
this scholarship,  might be held  in country beyond  the six-year                                                               
window through no fault of his own.                                                                                             
8:14:00 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS said  he understood  and  appreciated that,  but                                                               
that  extension  does  not  apply to  military  spouses  who  are                                                               
another important element of the population.                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER agreed  that people might delay college  for a lot                                                               
of valid reasons.                                                                                                               
8:14:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  STEWART   explained  that  the  original   proposal  by  the                                                               
administration provided for essentially  two types of scholarship                                                               
tiered  by grades:  a performance  scholarship and  a career  and                                                               
technical  scholarship. The  CS  proposes  a three-tiered  system                                                               
with grades  determining the  level of  the scholarship.  The top                                                               
tier  is the  performance scholarship  and requires  a 3.5  grade                                                               
point average  or higher; the  opportunity scholarship  begins at                                                               
2.5  GPA, and  the  career and  technical  scholarship injects  a                                                               
needs-based component.                                                                                                          
The governor's  original proposal  was a  needs-based scholarship                                                               
but did not  have an explicit needs-based component,  which is to                                                               
say  that any  student who  had achieved  a high  enough academic                                                               
standard would receive a  scholarship. The governor's amendments,                                                               
though,  injected a  dedicated needs-based  component that  would                                                               
allow the  state to take care  of half the outstanding  need of a                                                               
student after payment of the required $2000 family contribution.                                                                
MR.  RICHMOND interjected  that  the  academic requirements  were                                                               
skewed towards four years of science  and four years of math, and                                                               
while they  didn't want to  take anything away from  the academic                                                               
rigor, they  wanted to provide  something for students  who might                                                               
not be  scientifically or mathematically oriented;  so they added                                                               
two years of foreign language  as an alternative, but high grades                                                               
would still be expected.                                                                                                        
MR.  STEWART added  that the  original basis  for the  governor's                                                               
proposal was the  Taylor Plan to move kids  toward an engineering                                                               
and science curriculum. The CS  countenanced a broader palette of                                                               
curricula and students including those  who might want to go into                                                               
other fields like business or political science.                                                                                
8:19:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. RICHMOND  directed the  members' attention  to two  charts in                                                               
their   packets  titled   "Governor's  Proposed   Amendment"  and                                                               
"Governor's  Proposed  Amendment   (with  UA  scholarship)"  that                                                               
showed  how a  student  with maximum  financial  need would  fare                                                               
through this system.                                                                                                            
8:20:07 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVIS  asked if the amount  for the Pell Grants  as shown                                                               
on  the chart  titled  "Governor's Proposed  Amendment" had  been                                                               
updated, because  she was under  the impression that  the maximum                                                               
amount was less than $5000.                                                                                                     
MR. RICHMOND answered that he  called the Federal Application for                                                               
Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) organization  and was told this was                                                               
the amount that would be allowed next year.                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER questioned whether this  figure was for the lowest                                                               
income level and, therefore, the highest award.                                                                                 
MR.  RICHMOND answered  that it  was based  on a  student from  a                                                               
household with an income of  roughly $40,000, but other variables                                                               
affect that figure.                                                                                                             
8:21:09 AM                                                                                                                    
He continued that the chart was  broken down not only by academic                                                               
award  level, but  by  the  cost of  attendance  at  each of  the                                                               
University of  Alaska campuses. Looking first  at the "Governor's                                                               
Proposed  Amendment" chart,  he said  column one  illustrated the                                                               
calculation for  a student attending  UAA in 2010 to  be $19,035.                                                               
This student would receive a maximum  Pell Grant in the amount of                                                               
$5350 and  assuming an  A level  would get  a GPS  scholarship of                                                               
$4755 for  a total of  $10,105 leaving  $8930 in unmet  need. The                                                               
student and his family would have  to come up with at least $2000                                                               
through loans,  work-study or in  some other way,  leaving $6930,                                                               
of which the state would pay half, or $3465.                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked if that was based on a 15-hour semester.                                                                   
MR. RICHMOND answered yes.                                                                                                      
8:23:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked about the  difference in cost of attendance                                                               
between  the  University  of  Alaska   Anchorage  (UAA)  and  the                                                               
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).                                                                                           
MR. RICHMOND explained that cost  of attendance included tuition,                                                               
fees,  books,   and  cost  of   living  in  the   area  including                                                               
transportation, personal care supplies and occasional meals out.                                                                
8:24:01 AM                                                                                                                    
Moving to the second chart,  "Governor's Proposed Amendment (with                                                               
UA scholarship)",  Mr. Richmond said,  the same student  with the                                                               
Alaska Scholars tuition  waiver of $2750 would  have total grants                                                               
of  $12,855 and  a remaining  need of  $6180, minus  the required                                                               
$2000 family contribution, for a  total of $4180 in eligible base                                                               
need.  The state  would  pay 50  percent of  that,  so an  Alaska                                                               
Scholar making  A grades would  have to come  up with a  total of                                                               
$4090 on his own.                                                                                                               
8:26:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked if additional  assistance could  come from                                                               
the state loan program.                                                                                                         
MR.  RICHMOND replied  that when  a student  fills out  the FAFSA                                                               
form,  he indicates  which university  he would  like to  attend.                                                               
That organization  sends everything  the student could  apply for                                                               
in his state, which in Alaska  might include a Stafford Loan or a                                                               
scholarship specific  to a particular  major. He said he  was not                                                               
clear on whether  this additional money would  be counted against                                                               
the 50 percent or would be added to it.                                                                                         
8:27:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked where  in the bill  it delineates  who the                                                               
first payer is and where the state fits into that queue.                                                                        
MR.  RICHMOND could  not  say where  in the  bill  that could  be                                                               
found, but said the state is always the last payer.                                                                             
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  if  he  had  received  any  feedback  on                                                               
sweeteners to induce people to go into particular career fields.                                                                
MR. RICHMOND  answered that the  heavy requirements for  math and                                                               
science  would naturally  target  engineers, mathematicians,  and                                                               
scientists, but he was not aware of any particular sweeteners.                                                                  
8:29:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS said  they should talk about whether  or not they                                                               
want this  program to  include a  work force  shortage discipline                                                               
8:31:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS offered feedback from  a constituent who asked if                                                               
the  state  had  included  some  mechanism,  perhaps  a  matching                                                               
component, to reward  kids who have saved their  own money toward                                                               
an education.                                                                                                                   
MR. RICHMOND said he was not aware if anything like that.                                                                       
8:33:27 AM                                                                                                                    
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early  Development (DEED),  Juneau, Alaska,  said he  thought the                                                               
side-by-side comparison of the  administration's proposal and the                                                               
CS was clear and very helpful.                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  referred   Mr.  Morse  to  the   charts  on  the                                                               
governor's amendments and asked if he  could speak to the idea of                                                               
a sweetener for  certain discipline shortages and  to where other                                                               
scholarships fell in the financial hierarchy.                                                                                   
MR. MORSE said he could not speak to that.                                                                                      
MARCY HERMANN,  Legislative Liaison, Department of  Education and                                                               
Early Development (DEED), Juneau,  Alaska, answered that when she                                                               
filled out the  FAFSA for her son, there  were federal sweeteners                                                               
for  teachers and  for science  and math-heavy  students but  she                                                               
could not  speak to any others.  She mentioned that she  did know                                                               
of one  other income-eligible  grant, the  Supplemental Education                                                               
Opportunity Grant (SEOG).                                                                                                       
8:35:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVIS  said she would  like Stephanie Butler to  speak to                                                               
the various grants and scholarships.                                                                                            
SENATOR STEVENS said  his main question to the  department is how                                                               
they  intend to  reach the  standards  that are  required in  the                                                               
governor's bill.                                                                                                                
8:35:59 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MORSE  responded that part  of the idea  of this bill  was to                                                               
drive  curriculum improvements.  The  administration  was in  the                                                               
process of  analyzing districts' abilities and  figuring out what                                                               
could be done to improve them.                                                                                                  
8:37:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS commented  that he  had frequently  heard people                                                               
talk  about  online  or video-conference  classes  as  being  the                                                               
silver  bullet  that will  solve  the  problems Alaska  faces  in                                                               
offering a rigorous curriculum in  the outlying areas, but he was                                                               
not sure  how viable those  options really were  because distance                                                               
education takes a lot of self-discipline.                                                                                       
8:37:43 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MORSE  said he agreed that  it required a lot  of discipline,                                                               
and he  didn't think  it was  a magic bullet,  but it  could fill                                                               
some of  the need,  especially if  it was  offered in  a district                                                               
that already had distance education.                                                                                            
8:38:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DAVIS asked  Mr. Morse  when the  department would  have                                                               
that analysis available.                                                                                                        
MR. MORSE assured her that it would be available soon.                                                                          
8:39:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVIS asked  Ms. Butler to give them a  quick overview of                                                               
the grants available to students  and the average amount of money                                                               
a student gets  in grants in the state of  Alaska. She also asked                                                               
for a breakdown  by percentage of the grants,  loans and personal                                                               
funds the average student uses to fund his education.                                                                           
STEPHANIE    BUTLER,   Director,    Operations   and    Outreach,                                                               
Postsecondary  Education  Commission,  Juneau, Alaska,  said  she                                                               
could not provide  accurate numbers off the top of  her head. She                                                               
did say the  types of grants available are the  Pell Grant, which                                                               
is federal,  the SEOG,  which is federal  money allocated  to the                                                               
schools, and  the Alaska Advantage  State Grant, which is  a very                                                               
small program, only about $650,000 statewide.                                                                                   
SENATOR DAVIS  asked where  Alaska ranks  nationwide in  terms of                                                               
needs-based educational grants.                                                                                                 
MS. BUTLER replied  that Alaska is lowest in the  nation in terms                                                               
of needs-based grants.                                                                                                          
8:41:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVIS asked if they could have the breakdown by Friday.                                                                 
MS. BUTLER said yes.                                                                                                            
8:41:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER  asked where these  other grants  and scholarships                                                               
fit in the financial hierarchy for calculating unmet need.                                                                      
MS. BUTLER  answered that one  of the administration's  goals was                                                               
to supplement not supplant the federal aid programs.                                                                            
8:42:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS asked  where  private grants  would  fit in  the                                                               
MS.  BUTLER  said those  would  be  considered before  state  aid                                                               
whenever possible.                                                                                                              
8:43:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS   asked  where  the  National   Guard's  Tuition                                                               
Assistance fits in.                                                                                                             
MS.  BUTLER answered  that she  thought that  kind of  assistance                                                               
would be considered prior to state aid.                                                                                         
SENATOR HUGGINS noted that there  is also a program for survivors                                                               
of military personnel  killed in action and said  there should be                                                               
language in the bill to address these other types of aid.                                                                       
8:44:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MEYER opened  public testimony.  He said  the committee                                                               
would continue  public testimony on  Friday as well and  into the                                                               
following week if necessary.                                                                                                    
8:45:52 AM                                                                                                                    
TYLER PRESTON,  Senate President, University of  Alaska Southeast                                                               
(UAS), Juneau,  Alaska, thanked the  governor for  his initiative                                                               
and  said he  supported the  CS.  In response  to Senator  Davis'                                                               
question, he  said that Alaskan  students' grant aid  for 2007/08                                                               
was  $38  per student  compared  to  $466  per student  in  other                                                               
western states  and $608 nationally.  As a result,  University of                                                               
Alaska (UA)  students can anticipate  about $25,000 loan  debt as                                                               
compared  to $17,000  in  the other  western  states and  $20,000                                                               
As a  student he  said that  he looks at  the proposal  for need-                                                               
based aid and  he supported it vehemently. He said  Alaska is the                                                               
lowest state  in the nation  for need-based  aid and it  has been                                                               
that way  for 16  years. He said  that supporting  the University                                                               
supports   the  state's   workforce;  it   gives  the   state  an                                                               
opportunity  to grow.  At their  event on  Saturday, David  Stone                                                               
said that  20 percent of  Alaska's workforce is composed  of out-                                                               
of-state  workers. The  state has  a  shortage of  people in  the                                                               
areas of health  and engineering, and people who come  in to work                                                               
in those  fields do not tend  to stay here to  spend their money.                                                               
He  emphasized that  since 1999  the college  participation among                                                               
low-income students dropped by about 2.3 percent.                                                                               
8:48:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked Mr. Preston what his plans are.                                                                           
MR. PRESTON  said he was  currently majoring in  creative writing                                                               
in preparation for  a Masters Degree in teaching.  He is planning                                                               
on going to grad  school here in the state and  he hoped to teach                                                               
high school English.                                                                                                            
SENATOR STEVENS asked  him if he thought the GPS  placed too much                                                               
emphasis on science and math and not enough on other fields.                                                                    
MR.  PRESTON said  he  found  it troubling  that  there isn't  an                                                               
emphasis on arts as well.  Many incoming university students have                                                               
deficiencies in  language arts and  mathematics and need  to take                                                               
remedial classes when they enter.                                                                                               
8:50:29 AM                                                                                                                    
PETER FINN, Speaker, Coalition of  Student Leaders, University of                                                               
Alaska Anchorage, said he is  majoring in economics and political                                                               
science. He  said he supported the  CS for SB 224  very strongly.                                                               
He said 68 percent of Alaskan students get education loans.                                                                     
He related the story of he was  raised by a single parent who had                                                               
to work; they lived fairly well  until they moved to Alaska where                                                               
she  became bedridden  for about  five years.  He said  they lost                                                               
their car and  were forced to move from their  home to low income                                                               
housing. Most importantly he went  from being a very good student                                                               
to one  who was  failing and was  repeatedly withdrawn  from high                                                               
school.  Luckily, he  was able  to  test into  the University  of                                                               
Alaska Anchorage  and able  to receive the  Pell Grant,  which is                                                               
the reason he went to college.  He wanted them to know this story                                                               
because right now  a huge portion of the  Alaska population won't                                                               
end  up  as  lucky  as   he  did  coming  from  that  background.                                                               
Currently, only  7.9 percent of Alaskan  students from low-income                                                               
backgrounds are  going to go to  college. That is well  below the                                                               
national average of  23.8 percent, he said, and is  the reason he                                                               
favored the strong needs-based component in the proposed CS.                                                                    
8:54:13 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON  asked how  many  students  he believed  are  good                                                               
students and strongly motivated but  cannot attend college due to                                                               
financial hardship.                                                                                                             
MR. FINN  answered that he  could not  give him a  number without                                                               
some research, but  could say from his own  experience that often                                                               
it is  not a matter  of how good  a student  a person is.  In his                                                               
case, he  said he had difficulty  even getting to school.  It was                                                               
also  extremely   difficult  not  having  parental   support  and                                                               
guidance to  help him learn  the habits of a  successful student.                                                               
Once he got out of that  environment things changed, he said; his                                                               
GPA is over 3.0 and he plans to continue to graduate school.                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  said as  a student  for many  years, he  looked at                                                               
money coming  in as  something positive, and  it didn't  occur to                                                               
him until  later that he would  have to pay those  loans back. He                                                               
asked Mr.  Finn what he  thought about burdening  future students                                                               
with paying back grants that the Legislature is proposing.                                                                      
8:56:39 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FINN responded  he  saw  this program  as  an investment  in                                                               
Alaska's economy. Some  of the students may not  succeed and that                                                               
is  the  risk.  In  the  long run,  society  benefits  by  having                                                               
educated people. The  state is already investing  in education by                                                               
sending  students through  the K-12  system, which  is where  the                                                               
vast majority of education spending  is directed, and if students                                                               
who  have  gone  through  that   system  show  potential,  it  is                                                               
worthwhile to continue investing.                                                                                               
SENATOR  OLSON  asked  him  to justify  that  attitude  with  the                                                               
significant default rates on student loans.                                                                                     
MR. FINN  asked what  type of loans  Senator Olson  was referring                                                               
SENATOR OLSON  responded that he  was thinking about  the state's                                                               
revolving loan program.                                                                                                         
MR. FINN  said he still  thought it  was worth the  risk, because                                                               
the state will be better off if more kids are educated.                                                                         
8:58:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVIS  said that providing  more scholarships  and grants                                                               
is moving in  the right direction, because if  students have less                                                               
loan debt, there will be fewer defaults.                                                                                        
8:59:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS asked  Mr.  Finn if  the  University helped  him                                                               
develop the successful habits and if so, how.                                                                                   
MR. FINN  said he was hesitant  to speak to the  effectiveness of                                                               
the University  in general,  but the  most beneficial  thing they                                                               
did  for him  was provide  financial  aid advising.  The idea  of                                                               
paying  the huge  amount of  money  needed to  attend school  was                                                               
daunting, and  they did  help him  there. They  did not  help him                                                               
prepare  for the  lifestyle  change or  to  develop the  positive                                                               
habits  he mentioned,  and he  did  very badly  during his  first                                                               
9:02:04 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  said it  didn't  sound  as  if there  was  much                                                               
counseling provided and he appreciated knowing that.                                                                            
9:02:50 AM                                                                                                                    
AMBER  WILKERSON,  Eagle River,  Alaska,  said  she is  a  public                                                               
relations  student at  UAA and  believed that  it was  crucial to                                                               
adopt the  CS. She said she  had been struggling for  seven years                                                               
to finish college not because she  isn't a hard worker or because                                                               
she can't focus, but  because she has to pay most  of the cost of                                                               
attendance out of  her own pocket. Even with the  help of federal                                                               
aid, she has  a huge gap to  fill with her own money  and has had                                                               
to work more and more hours to stay in school.                                                                                  
9:04:52 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked about the  six-year window and the emphasis                                                               
on science and math.                                                                                                            
MS.  WILKERSON said  she thought  the six-year  window should  be                                                               
increased,  because it  is very  difficult for  many students  to                                                               
graduate in  four years due to  the hours they have  to work. She                                                               
said she approved of the emphasis on science and math.                                                                          
9:07:01 AM                                                                                                                    
NICK  MOE,   Political  Science  major  and   student  Government                                                               
Relations   Director   at   University   of   Alaska   Anchorage,                                                               
Anchorage,  Alaska, said  he  supported  the CS  for  SB 224.  He                                                               
pointed out that the students  who were there advocating for this                                                               
legislation are  not the  ones who would  benefit from  the bill,                                                               
but they know how much it would help others.                                                                                    
Tuition has increased for seven years  in a row, he said, and all                                                               
the   other  costs   associated  with   college  attendance   are                                                               
increasing as  well. At the  same time,  it is getting  harder to                                                               
get   student  loans   due  to   increasingly  stringent   credit                                                               
requirements.  He  said that  last  semester  he was  denied  the                                                               
Alaska  Advantage loan,  the same  loan he  had received  for the                                                               
previous  two years,  which seemed  ironic, because  he had  just                                                               
been pre-approved for a home loan  of up to $100,000. In closing,                                                               
he  thanked the  committee for  working on  this legislation  and                                                               
encouraged them to move forward with the committee substitute.                                                                  
Speaking to Senator Huggins' comments  about PFD savings, he said                                                               
that according to  statistics found on the UA  Scholars web site,                                                               
if a student saved all of his  PFDs through age 18 and received a                                                               
UA Scholars  award, that would cover  less than half the  cost of                                                               
attending college for four years, so  there is still a great need                                                               
for a scholarship program like this.                                                                                            
9:10:37 AM                                                                                                                    
AMY VOSS, representing herself,  Anchorage, Alaska, said she just                                                               
graduated  from UAA  with  a major  in  German and  international                                                               
studies, and she supported SB 224.  The UA Scholars award was the                                                               
main reason  she decided  to attend school  in Alaska,  she said,                                                               
and the quality of the programs  at UAA convinced her to stay and                                                               
pursue her  Master of  Arts in teaching.  She believed  that this                                                               
scholarship  program would  convince other  talented students  to                                                               
stay in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
She agreed with previous speakers that  there is a great need for                                                               
financial assistance  due to the  rising costs of  education. One                                                               
of her friends  had been attending UAA for six  years and had had                                                               
to work two  to three jobs all  of that time in order  to pay for                                                               
college without  going into debt.  Juggling school and  work made                                                               
it  very difficult  for her  to keep  up her  grades. There  is a                                                               
difficult  balance  to  be  reached between  the  time  spent  on                                                               
finishing  school and  on paying  for  it, she  said. Pursuing  a                                                               
college education  should not automatically mean  going into debt                                                               
for years.                                                                                                                      
9:13:08 AM                                                                                                                    
RYAN  BUCHHOLDT,  Speaker,  UAA Assembly,  University  of  Alaska                                                               
Anchorage, Anchorage,  Alaska, said  he supported  the CS  for SB
224.  He said  that Alaska  has been  dead last  by a  very large                                                               
margin throughout  the 14-year data  set used in the  study cited                                                               
by  Mr.  Finn  when  he  spoke about  the  number  of  low-income                                                               
students who pursue postsecondary  education. He said he believed                                                               
the  problem in  low-income  participation was  tied directly  to                                                               
Alaska's lack of needs-based grant programs.                                                                                    
He referred to a $7 million  anonymous donation given to UAA last                                                               
year  specifically  to  provide   needs-based  grants  to  first-                                                               
generation  college  students  who   are  from  single-mother  or                                                               
minority  families.  During the  first  year  about 400  of  1300                                                               
applications  met  the  eligibility  requirements  and  about  50                                                               
awards were given.                                                                                                              
MR. BUCHHOLDT  said that about  1 percent  of UA tuition  goes to                                                               
needs-based grants;  that was about $832,000  during the academic                                                               
year of 2007-2008.  He said Alaska is  vastly under-serving those                                                               
students who  need more money  to go to  college and who  have to                                                               
put  work above  school in  order to  continue. He  said that  he                                                               
alternates between going to school full  time and part time so he                                                               
is able to work.                                                                                                                
He closed by  saying that only 18.9 percent  of Alaska's students                                                               
are categorized  as having an estimated  zero-family contribution                                                               
and many are disqualified from  getting federal grants due to the                                                               
higher income  level here,  which is set  off by  Alaska's higher                                                               
cost of  living, especially  in rural  areas. He  emphasized that                                                               
the CS  is a much more  robust plan for needs-based  students and                                                               
that  he liked  the fact  that  there is  a path  for career  and                                                               
vocational students.                                                                                                            
9:18:56 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked  if  he would  comment  on  the  six-year                                                               
9:19:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BUCHHOLDT replied  that he  graduated from  Service High  in                                                               
2003 and  has been  going to  college off and  on ever  since due                                                               
primarily to  cost, but  even students who  have enough  money to                                                               
concentrate  on  their  studies  may find  it  difficult  to  get                                                               
through  in four  years,  because the  courses  they need  aren't                                                               
always available  when they need them.  He has had to  change his                                                               
educational plan to accommodate that.                                                                                           
9:20:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHARLES  SUTTON,  representing  the  graduating  class  of  2010,                                                               
Wasilla,  Alaska,  said he  supported  SB  224.  He said  he  was                                                               
advised  by  his  teacher  to review  his  transcripts  and  make                                                               
changes to his high school classes  as necessary so he would meet                                                               
or exceed the  requirements in HB 297 and SB  224. Because he was                                                               
lacking  in science  and math  credits,  he doubled  up on  those                                                               
classes while also  taking college-level courses at  UAA and UAF.                                                               
He gave  up a part time  job offer, his hobbies  and his elective                                                               
courses so  he could dedicate  his time and attention  to meeting                                                               
the  scholarship  requirements.  He  said  he  is  a  needs-based                                                               
student, but  has straight  As and  is willing  to work  hard for                                                               
this opportunity.  As a graduate of  the class of 2010,  he urged                                                               
the committee  to consider amending  SB 224 to include  his class                                                               
in the program, even if it  means they will not receive any funds                                                               
until the July 1, 2011 start date.                                                                                              
9:23:23 AM                                                                                                                    
LESLIE  SUTTON, parent  of  Charles Sutton,  said  she wanted  to                                                               
testify   regarding  the   transition   provision   in  SB   224,                                                               
specifically  page 13,  lines 19-21.  She  expressed her  feeling                                                               
that  based  on  the  governor's announcement  of  this  bill  in                                                               
October,  graduates of  the class  of 2010  should be  allowed to                                                               
apply. She assured the committee  that the students do not expect                                                               
the state to  lower the bar for them; they  have worked very hard                                                               
to meet the  academic requirements. They also  realize that funds                                                               
will not be available until July  1, 2011 and consider it a small                                                               
price to pay  for the knowledge that they can  stay in Alaska and                                                               
continue their education.  In closing she said  that she believed                                                               
the budgeted  funds should be able  to handle the number  of 2010                                                               
qualified graduates the  first year, because of  the lower number                                                               
of 2011  applicants who will  be prepared to qualify  during this                                                               
transition period.                                                                                                              
9:25:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MEYER thanked  her for  bringing for  her comments  and                                                               
assured her the committee would consider  it. [SB 224 was held in                                                               
9:26:32 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Co-Chair Meyer adjourned the meeting at 9:26 AM.                                                                                

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