Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Mildon of Anchorage was selected via random drawing as the winner of a $25,000 scholarship from the UA College Savings Plan’s Scholarship College Savings Account Giveaway. Mildon, a first year student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the first recipient in the giveaway’s history to also be a UA student.
“I was astonished,” said Mildon. “My parents have been saving my PFDs for college for several years now. I never would have guessed that I would take home the $25,000.” Mildon credits both his parents and his stepfather for their support and guidance in planning for college.
UA College Savings Plan organizers took the opportunity to use a unique approach to present Mildon with his award. Mildon was invited to participate in a focus group at a campus coffee shop, and after a few questions about his college planning and how he might react if he won the drawing, he was greeted by two mascots and presented with the $25,000 check.
“We are excited the funds will benefit one of our students, and the fact that he resides on the Fairbanks campus gave us the opportunity to share the good news in a creative way,” said Lael Oldmixon, the plan’s director. The presentation aired via Facebook Live. See the Facebook Live footage here.
The UA College Savings Plan has offered the scholarship for the last seven years. All Permanent Fund Dividend applicants who choose to contribute half their dividend to a UA College Savings Plan are entered in the giveaway. The scholarship is funded by the Education Trust of Alaska, which was established in 2001 to administer the UA College Savings Plan. The promotion aims to give Alaska families an extra incentive to save their Permanent Fund Dividends for higher education expenses. This year, 13,500 applicants entered the drawing. The UA College Savings Plan will offer the $25,000 scholarship account giveaway again next year.
Individuals enrolled in the UA College Savings Plan may use their savings account to pay for education expenses at any eligible college, university, or vocational/technical school in Alaska or the Lower 48. Families can open one of the tax-advantaged accounts with their PFD contribution, or with as little as $25 a month.