Alaskans are taking advantage of a $8.8 billion budget surplus to help them earn higher wages and more than $4,000 more in paychecks than their counterparts in other states.
With a $1,500 increase to the Alaska Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Education Scholarship program, Alaskan graduates are set to make an average of $879 per year.
That translates to an annual salary of $77,600.
The award was announced Thursday by Education Secretary Ed Gautreau, who noted the boost is expected to go to a “large percentage of students” in the coming years.
The program was created by Alaska’s education agencies in 2014 to help students graduate and move up in the career ladder.
Under the program, a $2,000 scholarship can be matched with a $4.50 salary or more.
The money is available to any Alaskas student who wishes to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
While the amount is small compared to the salaries paid in other U.S. states, the new scholarships represent a huge boost for students who are now eligible for the same scholarship and receive a boost in pay.
The scholarship program also helps to fund academic programs for students in low-income areas, and provides grants to students who need additional support to complete their degrees.
The Education Department said more than 60,000 students have already received their award.
Alaska’s Career Academy graduated over 1,000 graduates this year.