UA Perspectives

Recent Opinion Articles from the UA Community

The Office of Public Affairs works proactively with community members, business leaders, researchers, parents, faculty and other members of the UA family to get out the good news about UA. We do this through press releases, social media, and through guest opinion columns and letters to the editor. In this “UA Perspectives” feature of the Statewide Voice, we’ll share some of the recent publications that have resulted from our collaboration.

If you have ideas for upcoming topics or themes, please contact Public Affairs Director Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102.

The Challenge of College Affordability: University of Alaska is a bargain in shaping the future

Dr. Ashok Roy

The canvas is epic. Over the last decade, student debt in America has skyrocketed to more than $1 trillion (per the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau) which will lead to a total lifetime wealth loss of $4 trillion for indebted households without accounting for the impact of defaults. The average student debt is circa $26,600 (the average University of Alaska student debt is circa $24,000). Roughly $864 billion is outstanding federal student loan debt while the remaining $150 billion is in private student loan. According to the Chronicle of HigherEducation, of the approximately 20 million Americans who attend college each year almost 60 percent borrow annually to help cover costs; and there are circa 37 million student loan borrowers with outstanding student loans today. The cost of a college education is increasing two to three times the overall rate of inflation per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average cost of a baccalaureate degree at a public university went up 46 percent in real dollars from 2000 to 2010. In 2012, the national average for state appropriation per student was $5,906, and the share of revenues that comes from tuition at public institutions was 47 percent. The Center for the Study of Education Policy estimates that in 2012-13 the average tuition and fees at four-year public universities was $8,655, and that states spent $71.9 billion on higher education. 27.6 percentof the U.S. population have a college or advanced degree.

That begs the question: is a college education worth it?

The answer is an unequivocal “yes”.


Why UAA? Why Now?

Eric Francisco

I was in the homestretch of completing high school and filled with a mix of excitement for the future and stress over having to make big life decisions.   Decisions like what to do next.

My more grounded parents wanted me to plan for college, evaluate options and discuss choices. During those talks I never –not even once - considered the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) as a destination. My head was telling me, “I need to get out.”  MORE...

Navigating the Waters of Higher-Education Funding

Trudy Heffernan

I’ll admit this right off - my husband, Will, is on top of our finances. So when Will and I started down the adventurous road of togetherness and decided to have children, we discussed how we’d save for their futures before they were even born. Sure, maybe they would end up going to a trade school or building boats – whatever path they would take, we knew educational expenses would be involved and these days, for University, that can be substantial  

The State of Alaska helped us out to a huge extent. We started saving with their very first Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend checks invested in the University of Alaska College Savings Plan (CSP). After 18 years of investing, our daughter has access to over $40,000 to help with educational expenses.

She wants to attend art school and has earned our support to help to make that possible. Now, the process of selecting the right university with any college-bound teen is not easy. Also, and the bigger issue--the final selection needs to be agreed upon by the teen. As a parent I want her to get the life experience and education she needs at the best value, but part of the decision is financial and needs to have experienced college-goers count in... that would be both her parents. Luckily she took our advice on going to UAF. MORE...

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