UA College Savings Plan announces PFD scholarship account winners
by Michelle Saport |
Sixteen-year-old Charles Franznick of Palmer was randomly selected to win a $25,000 scholarship account in the UA College Savings Plan and four more young Alaskans have won $2,500 scholarship accounts.
All Permanent Fund Dividend applicants who answered "yes" to question number six of their PFD application were automatically entered into the annual scholarship account drawing. The PFD check-off asks residents if they would like to automatically contribute half of their dividend to their UA College Savings Plan account. Lael Oldmixon, director of the UA College Savings Plan said, "The giveaway is a fun way to encourage Alaskans to save for college. Letting the winners know they've won is a highlight of our entire year!"
Representatives of the Plan traveled to the $25,000 scholarship account winner's home in Palmer to inform him in person. Charles and his mother, Susan, were home when the representatives arrived. Dash, the plan's sled dog mascot, presented them with a giant check. "Surprising them like that was a lot of fun. Susan was just so overwhelmed and happy," said Bonnie Carroll, the plan's marketing manager. "This year we were able to record the reaction on video and we have shared it on online," she added. (Watch the video at the UA College Savings Plan Facebook page.)
Charles is the younger of the family's two children. He attends school online through the IDEA Program. He isn't sure where he will attend college but indicated that his interests are in math and science. "Who knows where he'll end up," said Susan. "This certainly opens up many amazing doors."
The winners of the $2,500 scholarship accounts are:
Andrew Gifford, age 14, Anchorage Grace Newman, Age 14, Juneau Timothy O'Rourke, age 17, Palmer Aaron Campbell, age 14, Wasilla
The UA College Savings Plan has offered the scholarship account giveaway for the last six years. The scholarships are funded by the Education Trust of Alaska, which was established in 2001 to administer the UA College Savings Plan. The drawing aims to give Alaska families an extra incentive to save their Permanent Fund Dividends for higher education expenses. More than 13,500 residents contributed to the UA College Savings Plan through the PFD check-off this year, an increase of 700 people from the prior year. The plan has seen a 71 percent increase from the number of contributors since 2009, before the giveaway began.
The UA College Savings Plan will offer a $25,000 scholarship account giveaway again next year to residents who contribute half of their 2016 PFD to the plan through the official application, which may be completed online or by visiting a distribution center. The application period runs Jan. 1 through March 31, 2016.
Beneficiaries in the plan may use their funds to pay for education expenses at any eligible college, university or vocational/technical school in Alaska or the Lower 48. Families can open a tax-advantaged account with their PFD contribution, or with as little as $25 a month.