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Alaska students sue to maintain fund that funds scholarships

January 6, 2022 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Four students have sued to force the state of Alaska to maintain a fund that provides scholarships to University of Alaska scholars.

The Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund could lose more than $400 million because of legislative budget disputes, Alaska Public Media reported Wednesday.

The fund provides financial support for Alaska Performance Scholarships, Alaska Education Grants and a state program for medical students.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration said since three-quarters of both legislative chambers didn’t vote to maintain the funding, the funds must be swept into a state savings account.

The Alaska Federation of Natives and 17 others successfully sued to maintain funding for a program that provides financial relief for electricity costs in rural Alaska when that program was similarly threatened.

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Dunleavy in a statement said he supports the scholarships and has directed the attorney general’s office to seek an expedited ruling.

Riley von Borstel of Seward, student body president at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said the scholarships are essential for her and other students and enrollment would decline if they were not available.

“I think many of them would decide not to attend school in Alaska if this funding weren’t available,” she said. Besides von Borstel, the other plaintiffs are Madilyn Short, Jay-Mark Pascua and Kjrsten Schindler.