Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Dunleavy signs Ruffridge bill expanding Alaska Performance Scholarship

The scholarship is paid out from the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund

More students will be able to receive more money from the Alaska Performance Scholarship after legislation increasing its award levels and broadening eligibility was signed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday, June 27.

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, carried the bill — House Bill 148 — in the House Education Committee. In June, he said that the bill was a major effort of his office, its passage “a big, big win.”

In a release from his office on Tuesday, he said “more Alaskan students will take advantage of the APS because of the increased scholarship levels and eligibility changes in HB 148.”

“More students receiving their postsecondary education in Alaska will help to meet our workforce development needs for many years to come.”

The Alaska Performance Scholarship, established in 2011, is paid out from the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund. The scholarship is awarded in three tiers based on a student’s grade point average, standardized test scores and courses taken.

The scholarships can be used at participating colleges and other secondary education entities in Alaska.

Ruffridge’s release said that more 30,000 students have received a total of $112 million during the scholarship’s lifetime.

Under the new law, students can qualify for those tiers by using either their grade point average or test scores, rather than needing to meet thresholds for both. It also broadens the definitions for the courses a student needs to take to receive the scholarship, most specifically by adding pathways based on career and technical education or cultural heritage.

The amount awarded for each tier is also increased under the new law. The new award amounts are $3,500, $5,250 and $7,000. Those are up from $2,278, $3,566 and $4,755. Those amounts are paid directly to schools, annually for up to four years, so a student receiving the highest tier of the scholarship would see a total of $28,000 in financial aid over the duration.

The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Sen. Forrest Dunbar, D-Anchorage.

“This legislation is a tremendous step forward for our students and our state,” he said in the release. “By increasing financial support and expanding opportunities through the APS program, we empower our youth to pursue their dreams while contributing to Alaska’s future.”

This story was edited Thursday, July 4, to correct the date when Dunleavy signed the bill.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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