Alaska is known for snow and frigid temperatures, but it has a lot to offer when it comes to higher education! The colleges and universities in Alaska offer a robust selection of online degree programs and some of the lowest tuition rates in the country.
Even with already low tuition rates, Alaska also offers grants and scholarships, and even participates in an exchange program with other northeastern states to help students avoid high out-of-state tuition costs.
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If you’re thinking about pursuing a postsecondary degree in Alaska, check out all the opportunities and savings that are in store for you!
Overview of Higher Education in Alaska
According to a 2018-2019 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Alaska is home to 8 degree-granting institutions, including 4 public, 3 nonprofit, and 1 for-profit schools.
With such a limited selection of schools, you might think tuition costs would be through the roof, but that’s not the case at all. The NCES reports that the average tuition and fees for a 4-year public institution in Alaska was $8396 for in-state students and $24,454 for out-of-state students. Both are well below the national average.
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To provide even more of a financial incentive, Alaska also participates in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE is a collaborative program that allows residents to enroll in degree programs at any of the 16 participating states and territories while paying no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.
About Online Colleges in Alaska
You don’t have to be an Alaska resident to know that the state is cold and snowy most of the time. Conditions like these can make it difficult or even impossible for college students to get to campus for classes, so online degree options are a must!
The University of Alaska system offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certifications and endorsements, through its 3 main campuses: Anchorage, Fairbanks and Southeast. The program at University of Alaska Fairbanks has been ranked among US News & World Reports’ list of best online bachelor’s degree programs.
Charter College, a for-profit private school in Anchorage, also offers a number of online degree and certificate programs in health care, business, information technology, veterinary and the trades. Some online programs may be offered entirely online, while others are available through a hybrid format that includes both online and on-campus classes.
According to the NCES in 2018, 25.5% of Alaska’s students were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, while 27.4% were enrolled in hybrid programs.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Alaska
In order to receive financial aid to attend either on-campus or online colleges in Alaska, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which unlocks the door to federal, state and private college funds.
The FAFSA application will require you to provide financial information for yourself and your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). Your answers will help determine how much need-based aid is offered to you. FAFSA funds are awarded on a first come, first served basis, so you should apply as soon as possible. It is available starting October 1st of the year before you plan to attend college.
In addition to federal aid, the FAFSA provides access to the Alaska Education Grant. This grant, funded by The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, is entirely need-based and can offer $500-$4000 in assistance each year.
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Students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) should also check out the Alaska Space Grant Program. This grant is given based on academic achievement, recommendations and career goals. More “free money for college” is also available through scholarships, which you can find using scholarship search sites like Fastweb.com.
Scholarships are often awarded to students with exceptional grades and test scores, but they may also be awarded based on race, religion, gender, athletic skills, talents, etc. Some scholarships are offered to students in a particular state or region. Residents of Alaska, as well as out-of-state students who enroll at institutions in Alaska, can apply for scholarships like the ones below.
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship amount|
|Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS)||$2378-$4755 per year
(3 tiers based on GPA and ACT/SAT scores)
|Art Jess Scholarship||$1000 or more|
|NSHSS Tesoro Youth Leadership Awards||$2000 (5)|
|Red Boucher Scholarship||Up to $1000|
|Tim Akers Memorial Scholarship||$1000|
Each of the colleges and universities in Alaska offer additional financial aid, some based on need and some based on merit. To find out how you can access those funds, contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.
List of Online Colleges in Alaska
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Alaska Pacific University splits its degree programs into three institutes: Business and Public Policy, Culture and Environment, and Health and Wellness. The institutes are designed to serve the Alaskan community.
Students may pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees. APU offers degrees in counseling psychology, creative writing, environmental science, and more. The school also offers certificate programs and early honors classes for high schoolers.
Alaska Pacific University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Ilisagvik College is the only tribal college in Alaska. Ilisagvik offers education programs that are steeped in the rich Iñupiaq cultural heritage. Students can earn degrees through entirely online courses or in a hybrid format. The school offers associate and bachelor’s degrees, certificates, and endorsements. Areas of study include accounting, Iñupiaq studies, and more.
Iḷisaġvik College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Alaska—Anchorage offers several online degrees. Students who live out of state still pay in-state tuition for all courses that are completely online. Students can pursue certificates and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. There is a wide range of degree options, such as a BS in Occupational Safety and Health and an MS in Project Management.
UAA is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Students at the University of Alaska—Fairbanks have the choice of over 40 online majors. Most courses are asynchronous but still have weekly work due. While most courses last a traditional semester, the school offers a small selection of 7 week classes. Students can earn degrees in the fields of emergency management, justice administration, biology, and more.
UAF is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Alaska—Southeast offers completely online degree programs for students worldwide. Fall and spring semesters are15 weeks long, while summer terms are shorter. Students can pursue certifications, associate degrees, or bachelor’s degrees in applied fisheries, social sciences, and more. Students can earn their master’s in fields such as public administration. education, and more.
The University of Alaska – Southeast is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Alaska might seem like it’s a world away, but is very much in line with the rest of the US when it comes to higher education.
Students interested in attending one of Alaska’s degree-granting institutions can look forward to top educational programs, plenty of online learning opportunities, and extremely competitive tuition costs!