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Distance learning is popular in Alaska; its 739,795 residents live across 570,640 square miles of land with remote areas only accessible by air or water. Online colleges in Alaska make higher education possible for residents who cannot access school campuses as well as students located outside the state.
Alaska offers some of the lowest in-state tuition in the country at an average of $6,138 a year, according to 2014-2015 data from the College Board . The state also offers above average in-state grant aid per student. This guide explores what online programs in Alaska offer.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Alaska
Graduates may find a difficult job market in Alaska post-graduation, depending on their degrees. The state has an unemployment rate of 6.4% while the national average remains at 3.8%. However, jobs in Alaska pay a mean annual salary of $57,750, more than the national average of $50,620.
While the overall job market in Alaska is not ideal, some sectors should see growth. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD), projects the state will add about 17,000 jobs through 2026. The state particularly needs healthcare workers to care for the aging baby boomer generation. The department predicts an increase of 10,100 jobs in healthcare through 2026.
College graduates have an advantage in the workforce. National trends show that more jobs will require employees to have a college degree in the future, according to a report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce . Some 35% of job openings by 2020 will require candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. In Alaska, 26 out of 784 jobs require candidates to have a bachelor's degree and nine require an associate's degree, according to the DLWD .
Unemployment Rate, November 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in Alaska
Alaska offers students an affordable college education compared to the national average. Students pay an average of $7,820 for a four-year, in-state college in Alaska, while the national average is $9,970, according to the College Board.
Online colleges in Alaska typically charge the same tuition rates as on-campus programs; however, since online students study remotely, they do not have the same college-related expenses on-campus students incur. For instance, online learners save money on transportation, room and board, parking, and other expenses related to commuting to campus. All students should factor in additional costs such as textbooks, supplies, and other fees.
Online programs in Alaska may extend in-state tuition rates to out-of-state students. Additionally, out-of-state students who relocate from a partner state may receive tuition breaks. Alaska, one of the 15 states in the Western Interstate Commission (WICHE), places a cap on out-of-state tuition through the Western Undergraduate Exchange. This means non-resident students who reside in a partner state will not pay more than 150% of resident tuition. Those states include Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, California, Colorado, South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, and North Dakota.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Alaska
Students nationwide usually pay more for out-of-state tuition than in-state. Alaska follows the national trend.
Out-of-state students who attend online schools in Alaska pay more for classes at a four-year or two-year college than residents. The average cost for in-state tuition at a four-year college or university in Alaska is $7,820, according to the College Board, and out-of-state students pay $23,990. However, tuition in Alaska remains lower than the national average of $10,230 and the non-resident average of $26,290.
To establish residency students must have lived in Alaska for at least two years. Non-resident students can get around the out-of-state tuition hikes if they qualify for the Western Regional Graduate Program or Western Undergraduate Exchange under WICHE. Additionally, military personnel and their dependents qualify for residency status.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Financial Aid in Alaska
To receive financial aid, students must first fill out the FAFSA online. This form allows students to demonstrate how much money they need for college. A new form must be completed every year and submitted by June 30. Online colleges in Alaska may have earlier FAFSA deadlines.
The bulk of a student's financial aid comes from federal loans and grants. Federal Pell grants offer the best source of financial aid to low-income students who demonstrate financial need. Pell Grants do not need to be repaid.
States also distribute funds to students. For instance, in 2016-2017 Alaska distributed $940 in state grant aid per full-time student, above the national average of $820. How much aid a student gets depends on their financial circumstances. The state also provides need-based financial aid to students through the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education . Students can apply for low-interest loans, grants, and scholarships through the commission's website. Additionally, Alaska residents who meet the academic and financial need requirements can apply for the Alaska Education Grant which offers $500 to $4,000 in aid.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Scholarships and Grants for Alaska College Students
Paying for college can feel overwhelming. Luckily, in addition to federal loans, students considering online schools in Alaska can apply for scholarships and grants which do not need to be repaid. Scholarships are typically merit-based, and grants go to students in financial need. Here are some of the scholarships and grants available to students in Alaska.
Who Can Apply: Alaska high school students planning to attend online colleges in Alaska can apply for the Alaska Performance Scholarship. Students must have at least a 2.5 GPA to qualify for this scholarship, offered through the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. How much a student receives depends on their GPA and ACT or SAT scores.
Amount: $2,378 to $4,755
Who Can Apply: Funded by the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund, the Alaska Education Grant helps undergraduates who demonstrate financial need. To qualify, students must have Alaskan residency and a high school diploma or GED. They also must be enrolled in an accredited Alaska college on at least a part-time basis and have an excellent academic record.
Amount: $500 to $2,000
Who Can Apply: The Koniag Education Foundation offers merit-based scholarships to Koniag, Incorporated shareholders and their descendants. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. The committee prefers candidates studying forestry or a similar major.
Who Can Apply: Alaska Natives and Alyeska shareholders and their descendants can apply for this scholarship. Candidates must have at least a 2.0 GPA. Preferred applicants include those with majors such as engineering, safety, business, or another field relevant to working for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
Amount: Up to $2,500
Who Can Apply: Named in honor of Magnel "Maggie" E. Drabek, the Magnel Larsen Drabek Scholarship goes to one undergraduate student every year. The eligible applicant must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. Preference goes to students majoring in cultural studies, education, or the arts.
Who Can Apply: The Larry Matfay Cultural Heritage Scholarship goes to one undergraduate student every year who has a minimum 2.5 GPA. Preference goes to applicants studying a major related to indigenous cultures, such as Alutiiq culture. Students studying anthropology or history will also receive preference.
Who Can Apply: The Glenn Godfrey Sr. Memorial Scholarship goes to students -- either sophomores, juniors, or seniors -- who have a passion for giving back to the community. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA, demonstrate leadership skills, and have experience in community service and civic engagement.
Who Can Apply: All first-year undergraduates admitted to the University of Alaska Fairbanks qualify for a full-tuition scholarship. To qualify, students must have at least a 4.0 GPA. They also need to submit an SAT score of 1410 or ACT score of 30.
Amount: Full scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) offers college funding to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. To receive grant funding, students must be U.S. citizens enrolled in college full-time. Students must also complete the FAFSA to demonstrate financial need.
Amount: $100 to $4,000 per year
Who Can Apply: The Pell Grant offers college funds to low-income undergraduate students. Students must complete the FAFSA to determine their eligibility. To receive aid, applicants cannot have a college degree.
Amount: $6,095 for the 2018-2019 school year
Best Majors for Online Students in Alaska
Compared to other states, job growth in Alaska remains slow and the unemployment rate of 6.4% exceeds the national average. However, the future is bright for those who major in healthcare, hospitality, education, and agriculture.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects a 21.4% growth in healthcare and social assistance employment through 2026. College students studying nutrition, nursing, medical laboratory science, and other healthcare majors should benefit from this job growth.
Economists also project the leisure and hospitality industry to grow by 9.2% until 2026 with 3,303 expected jobs. Education should also see job growth of 0.9% through 2026. Lastly, with the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2014, projections show a 24.4% job growth in agriculture.
Nursing ScienceDegrees in nursing science offer a registered nurse option and pre-licensure track. Graduates with a nursing science degree commonly go on to become registered nurses, ICU nurses, or surgical nurses. Many graduates also pursue a master's in nursing to land jobs as clinical nurse specialists or nurse administrators.
Hospitality AdministrationGraduates who hold a bachelor's degree in hospitality administration obtain entry-level jobs as hotel managers and food and service managers. The degree provides students with a foundation in business; they can also take courses in accounting, marketing, branding, and human resources.
Social WorkSocial work bachelor's programs in Alaska prepare students to work with multicultural populations and geographically isolated communities in Alaska. Graduates who hold a bachelor's degree in social work can find employment as rehabilitation case workers, human service specialists, community outreach workers, case management aides, and probation officers.
Resources for Online College Students in Alaska
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development : Graduates looking for work opportunities can visit the department's job bank, ALEXsys or the Alaska Job Center Network. The department's website also has links to training opportunities. Additionally, graduates can find information about Alaska's labor laws on the department's website.
Alaska Community Foundation : Founded in 1995, the Alaska Community Foundation gives $3 to $5 million to local nonprofits and charities every year. The ACF also offers scholarships and grants for undergraduate and graduate students studying in Alaska. Students can apply for scholarships and grants directly through the foundation's website.
Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education : The state's higher education agency, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, offers students access to information about scholarships, grants, and low-interest loans. The website also helps college students manage their money with Money $marts, a video series on budgeting. And The Success Center provides workshops for students on how to complete a FAFSA and find career opportunities.
Kodiak Community Foundation : The Kodiak Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Alaska Community Foundation, provides additional resources and a network to the community on the island of Kodiak, located in the Gulf of Alaska. In 2018, the KCF gave out $18,000 to 11 organizations in Alaska.
Indian Health Service : This national health program serves Alaska Natives and American Indians. Students can visit the website and find access to healthcare facilities and tribal health care organizations. The website also includes links to the Indian Health Service Scholarship Program , for students studying healthcare, and the Indian Health Service Jobs bank.
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