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Alaska Dividend Is $900: 9 Things You May Not Know

By Betty Wang, JD on September 20, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Thinking about moving to Alaska? Sure you'll have to deal with depressingly long winter nights and even a surprisingly high crime rate, but here's one draw: the Alaska dividend. Eager Alaskans learned this week that this year's Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) dividend will be $900.

That's lower than it's been in years past (the record payout was $2,069 in 2008), but it's still more than last year's $878, The Associated Press reports. That's a lot of smoked salmon and Alaskan king crab.

For those in the Lower 48 who are out of the loop: What exactly is the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend? Here are nine things you may not know about it:

  1. What is it? The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is a annual dividend paid out to Alaska residents who qualify. According to the AP, each qualified resident's check is based on "a five-year rolling average of worldwide markets."
  2. Why does the dividend exist? The APF was created to ensure that every Alaska resident receives his or her share of the state's oil wealth. Alaskans voted to put at least 25 percent of the state's money earned from oil into a dedicated fund that is now the Permanent Fund.
  3. It's the law. In 1976, then-Gov. Jay Hammond proposed the creation of the Fund as a constitutional amendment. The Alaska Legislature then modified this legislation and placed it on the ballot in the 1976 General Election. It passed. The Permanent Fund now exists as Chapter 37.13 of the Alaska Statutes.
  4. Who's eligible? The basic requirements for eligibility include: being a resident of Alaska during all of the calendar year, with the intent to remain indefinitely; also, the resident must not have been convicted of a felony or incarcerated that year, among other stipulations.
  5. How is the money delivered? Eligible Alaskans can either choose to have the money sent to them through direct deposit, or mailed to them physically as a check.
  6. It's not guaranteed. A payout is not guaranteed every year. Under the Alaska Constitution, it's stated that the Fund's principal can't be spent. This means that the dividend can only be paid from the earnings of the Fund, so if the reserve is at zero, then no money can be paid out.
  7. How much is in the Fund? The current amount of the APF is updated daily on the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation's website. The amount will fluctuate according to the market.
  8. After the payout, debauchery often ensues. According to one study, mortality rates significantly increase the week after dividend checks go out. This is partly attributed to Alaskans', shall we say, risky behavioral choices upon receiving a big chunk of change. The study found the biggest spikes in deaths were tied to substance abuse, accidents, and heart attacks, Anchorage's KTVA reports.
  9. It can be spent on anything. The money doesn't have to necessarily be spent on risk-increasing activities, though. Many residents choose to take a nice trip, put it into their savings, or spend it on gas and groceries (of which prices are often alarming).

So if you're an eligible Alaskan, look for your share of your state's riches beginning October 3. And please, spend it wisely!

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