JUNEAU – Rep. Andy Josephson prefiled legislation last week that will protect funding for Alaska scholarship programs, as well as funding for Alaska’s medical doctorate program. HB 229 would remove the Higher Education Investment Fund from the yearly legislative battle over the reverse sweep, in addition to including WWAMI in statute to the Higher Education Fund’s mission directive.
“It’s inexcusable that our children’s future in higher education is held hostage to our annual political squabbles in the Legislature,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage). “Alaska’s future doctors, nurses, scientists, and business leaders deserve certainty that scholarships and programs will be available to them each year so they can continue their education and start their careers here in state.”
The Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund was conceived in 2012 to endow the merit-based Alaska Performance Scholarship and the needs-based Alaska Education Grant, allowing for young Alaskans to take the next step in their education following high school. This was to prepare the next generation for a competitive job marketplace, where an estimated 65% of all jobs in Alaska will require postsecondary training by 2025.
WWAMI is a medical doctorate program that allows us to train students in Alaska without operating an in-state medical school. The program has become a critical tool to boosting our medical workforce numbers. WWAMI has been funded from the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund for years.
HB 229 would protect both of these scholarship programs and the WWAMI program by moving the Higher Education Investment Fund into the Alaska Student Loan Corporation, making it a true endowment fund and protecting it from the Legislature’s annual decision on the reverse sweep. The bill will be read across on the House floor at the beginning of the session before being referred to committees for review.