There’s never been a better time to attend UAA

by Bruce Schultz, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs  |   

UAA students take notes in Dr. Veronica Howard's Intro to Behavior Analysis (PSY A200) course.
Students take notes in Dr. Veronica Howard's Intro to  Behavior Analysis (PSY A200) course in UAA's Social Sciences Building.

For the first half of this year, I served as interim chancellor of UAA. Reflecting on my time in this role and the perspective it provided me, I can’t help but be inspired by the positive momentum UAA will carry into the fall semester. As we welcome new UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell and prepare to return to in-person campus operations this fall, financial aid and student assistance are at an all-time high.

In my 29 years working at UAA, I can say with certainty there has never been a better time to attend UAA than right now. New student success initiatives, such as Seawolf Mentor and CircleIn, are ensuring students have easy access to academic and personnel support services whenever they may need it. It has never been more convenient for students to connect with faculty and advisors or study and discuss course material with classmates.

To help meet students where they are, we have also expanded academic advising capacity and are implementing a formal first-year experience program and student success center. In addition, this coming academic year, UAA will make more than $10 million in federal coronavirus relief funding available to registered students through scholarships and grants.

Consider the Seawolf Start Scholarship, which helps first-time students with the cost of tuition. Over 1,000 eligible students have been invited to register for at least three credits at the Anchorage campus by July 1 to automatically receive this $500 scholarship. UAA awarded Seawolf Start scholarships to nearly 160 students in spring 2021. UAA will also offer 500 $1,000 discounts for both the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters to help students living on campus cover the cost of a qualifying meal plan, helping combat hunger and food insecurity among the student population.

In February, UAA was recognized with the Military Friendly School® distinction. This marks the 13th consecutive year UAA has earned this distinction, and for good reason. Starting this fall, UAA is making a flat $250 per credit hour tuition rate available for active duty, reserves and national guard members who use Armed Forces tuition assistance, meaning their courses and some fees will now be fully covered by Armed Forces tuition assistance. This summer, UAA also allowed Army service members using tuition assistance to take courses for free following the Army’s announcement that assistance would be unavailable due to delays in the rollout of the federal tuition assistance system.

UAA’s Fast Track Certificates are designed to enhance existing skills or support retraining. Completion of a certificate program positions UAA graduates to qualify for the best jobs in our recovering economy, and the Municipality of Anchorage has provided a $3 million grant to help Anchorage residents earn these certificates.

Let’s not forget the success of UAA’s 49th Finishers Scholarship, available to Alaska residents who have earned some college credits, but either studied elsewhere or took a break from school to focus on family, work or other endeavors and have not returned. Over 150 students received this scholarship last academic year, with hundreds more students eligible to benefit this fall. The scholarship will re-open to students for the spring 2022 semester.

In addition to federal funding, we are doing all we can to ensure a UAA education remains affordable for students. Last year, we helped Anchorage students save over $500,000 on textbook costs as a result of our partnership with a full-service online bookstore and course materials platform. Similarly, more UAA faculty are adopting free course materials and textbooks known as open educational resources, which produce additional savings for UAA students.

As we look to the fall semester, I am excited and optimistic about the outlook for UAA and the state of Alaska. Fall 2021 will mark the return of most faculty and staff to our campuses, and significantly more courses will be held in person. We are also excited to see the return of beloved in-person events and campus traditions, including student life opportunities and Seawolf Athletics events.

Now that I have transitioned back into my role as vice chancellor for student affairs, I look forward to continuing to contribute to the good work taking place here, working alongside Chancellor Parnell to open doors and expand opportunities for our students. More than ever before, it’s a great day to be a Seawolf.

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