Although Alaska is the biggest state in the United States, its population is rather small at 732,673 people. Many parts of the state are incredibly expensive, though, which leads to many residents struggling financially.
Along with Utah, Alaska has one of the highest per capita debt-to-income ratios in the country. The average resident owes $63,920 and makes, by comparison, $46,479 annually. The state’s overall poverty rate is also high at 10.1%, making it the 13th highest in the country.
If you need debt relief in Alaska or are seeking other financial assistance, here are your best options.
Alaska debt statistics
Tens of thousands of Alaskans are seeking debt relief. Here are some of the latest debt and credit statistics:
- Average household debt: $63,920 per capita
- Average student loan debt: $34,024
- Average credit score: 714
- Median mortgage payment: $1,907
- Bankruptcies: 214
- Personal income: $46,479
- Child poverty: 12.6%
- Unemployment: 4.5%
Debt collection laws in Alaska
The Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act protects Alaskan residents from unfair debt collection practices. In particular, it states that debt collectors:
- Cannot harass the debtor (person who owes the money) or repeatedly call them
- Cannot use abusive tactics, threaten violence, or use profanities to try to collect a debt
Debt collectors also may not intentionally mislead or deceive the debtor or make false statements to collect money. Examples include:
- Claim to take legal action against you
- Threaten to garnish wages or take property when they cannot legally do so
- Pretend to be an attorney or law firm
- Imply or state non-legal documents are legal documents
- Claim that not paying the debt will result in criminal charges or imprisonment
The Act further outlines the general practices that are considered unfair or deceptive. This is for debt collection, as well as for general commerce.
If you believe a debt collector is operating outside of their rights, file a complaint with the Alaska Consumer Protection Unit or contact them here:
- Phone: (907) 269-5200 (toll-free outside Anchorage) or (888) 576-2529
- Email: [email protected]
Alaska is also protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which further regulates third-party debt collection in the state. It prohibits debt collectors from engaging in various practices, including:
- Harassing the person who owes the debt
- Contacting the individual at work when explicitly told not to
- Using unfair, deceptive, or threatening tactics to collect money
- Claiming to be someone they’re not
- Attempting to collect money on a debt the individual doesn’t owe
The FTC provides more information about debt collection and how it’s regulated in the country.
Debt relief options for Alaska Residents
If you need debt relief in Alaska but aren’t sure where to start, here are your options:
- Debt settlement: Debt settlement is when you negotiate with your creditors to try to lower the total amount you owe on an account. Most people go through a debt settlement company to do this, but you may be able to do it yourself.
- DIY plans: If you’re being harassed by debt collectors and want to try to settle your debts yourself, consider a DIY plan. Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to create a better repayment plan, reduce interest rates, or waive certain fees.
- Debt consolidation loans: A debt consolidation loan combines several unsecured debts into one loan with a fixed monthly payment. If you have good credit, you could get a loan with a lower interest rate than the individual debts.
- Debt management plan: Many nonprofit credit counseling agencies offer DMPs for those who need help repaying debts. With a DMP, a credit counselor will try to negotiate with your creditors for better terms or lower interest rates.
- Bankruptcy: Filing for bankruptcy is typically a last resort, but it could also be a fresh start if you’re struggling with debt. Two types of personal bankruptcy exist — Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Consult with an attorney before filing to see which one they advise, if either.
To learn more about how to settle debts, check out this video:
Debt settlement in Alaska
With a debt settlement plan, your creditor will agree to accept a payment that’s lower than what you originally owed. This can be helpful for those who’ve fallen behind on bills or are using expensive forms of credit — ex. credit cards or payday loans — to pay for daily expenses.
Debt settlement plans can help you pay off different unsecured debts, including:
- Lines of credit
- Department store cards
- Personal loans
- Student loans in default
- Old judgments
- Other unsecured debts
When done through an agency, debt settlement can take two to four years to complete. During this time, you may be asked to stop making payments on the enrolled debts to increase the odds of successfully settling them. You may also no longer be able to use any credit cards, except one for emergencies.
Debt settlement agencies are legally required to tell you how long they expect it will take to settle each debt. They must also inform you of how much you’ll need to set aside each month before they can make an offer to any creditors.
The debt settlement and credit repair industry is rife with scams, so watch out for those when choosing a company.
Alaska debt relief companies
Here are some top Alaska debt relief companies:
- True North Federal Credit Union: 341 W Tudor Rd, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 523-4700
- Money Management International: 417 Barrow St Suite G, Anchorage, AK 99501; (907) 279-6501
- Credit Repair Today: 815 2nd Ave #123, Fairbanks, AK 99701; (907) 987-6900
- Pacific Debt Relief: 750 B Street Suite 1700 San Diego, CA 92101; (877) 722-3328 or (833) 865-2028
- InCharge Debt Solutions: 5750 Major Blvd, Suite 300 Orlando, FL 32819; (866) 605-4814
Debt relief attorneys
Need a debt relief attorney in Alaska? Here are the top-rated ones:
- Polaris Law Group, P.C.: 203 S Santa Claus Ln Suite D, North Pole, AK 99705; (907) 885-6619
- Jason Weiner and Associates PC: 406 G St. Suite 205, Anchorage, AK 99501; (907) 375-7905
- Law Offices of Jennifer L. Holland: 606 E St #203, Anchorage, AK 99501; (907) 279-3333
Debt resources for Alaska residents facing hardship
In Alaska, multiple programs and debt resources exist to help residents facing financial hardship. These include help with:
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Utility bills
- Childcare costs
- Medical expenses
Alaska also has multiple food and nutrition programs, including food banks, to try to combat hunger in the state. For the 86,970 Alaskans — roughly 11.9% — who are food insecure, these are an essential part of daily life.
If you or someone you know is facing hunger in the state, check out one of these food banks:
- Southeast Alaska Food Bank: 10020 Crazy Horse Dr, Juneau, AK 99801; (907) 789-6184
- Food Bank of Alaska: 2192 Viking Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99501; (907) 272-3663
- Fairbanks Community Food Bank Service: 725 26th Ave, Fairbanks, AK 99701-2377; (907) 457-4273
- Palmer Food Bank: 221 South Valley Way, Palmer, Alaska 99645, United States; (907) 746-3565
- Kenai Peninsula Food Bank: 33955 Community College Drive, Soldotna, AK 99669; (907) 262-6428
For a comprehensive list of food banks and pantries, check out FreeFood’s online directory.
Income and employment in Alaska
Alaska’s unemployment rate was 11.9% in May 2020. Like most of the USA, the state’s unemployment rate has since decreased and is now 4.5%. This is still higher than the national average of 3.7%.
In terms of job creation, the state ranks 37th with 7,400 new jobs.
Alaska is an employment-at-will state, meaning an employer can legally terminate any employee with or without cause. There are exceptions to this, though. For example, an employer may not use an illegal reason to fire somebody. If a job contract states otherwise, the employer must also typically follow that.
The state is not a right-to-work state. “Right-to-work” states are those that do not force employees to join a union as a condition of employment. In Alaska, no such right-to-work laws currently exist.
How to apply for unemployment benefits in Alaska
Those seeking unemployment benefits in Alaska may do so through myAlaska. The Alaska Department of Labor also has an easy guide on how to file.
To file for unemployment, you’ll need certain information, such as:
- Physical mailing address
- Current mailing address (if different)
- Phone number
- Information about your recent employer
- Total amount of hours you worked in the past week
- Whether you were in the military during the previous 18 months
- Some form of government identification
With this information in hand, go to the “Services for Individuals” section on the myAlaska website and choose unemployment insurance benefits. Sign in or register for an account.
Once logged in, you can select “Unemployment Insurance Benefits” and begin the application. Follow the prompts to complete it. Once completed, either file a new claim or open up a previous one.
You can also set up Direct Deposit or connect an active debit card for the benefits. You can also use AlaskaJobs to find work.
Be prepared to file weekly to keep receiving benefits. You can also do this on the myAlaska website.
Banking and taxes in Alaska
Alaska is one of eight states with no personal state income tax. The state also doesn’t have a fixed sales tax, but municipal governments can set their own — up to 7.5%.
As of 2019, 3.4% of Alaska residents are unbanked, meaning they don’t have a checking or savings account.
Alaska housing market
Around 66.8% of Alaskan residents are homeowners. According to Business Insider, the median mortgage payment is $1,882. In contrast, the average rent payment is around $1,302 (in Anchorage) for a 702-square-foot apartment.
The average cost of a single-family home is $388,648 — up by about 9.7% over the past year. This is a bit higher than the national average home value of $357,589.
For Alaska residents who need access to affordable housing, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation may be able to help. This organization offers financial assistance to approved households. It also has information about the recent housing trends in the state.
Retirement in Alaska
The average Alaskan has about $503,822 set aside for retirement. The average Alaska resident needs closer to $1,159,339 to live comfortably in retirement.
Average Alaskan insurance premiums
Insurance premiums in Alaska depend on several factors, such as the asset’s value and location. In general, the average car insurance premium for full coverage is $1,599 annually — about average in the country. A standard homeowner insurance premium is about $1,059.
Payday lending status in Alaska: Legal
Payday lending is legal in Alaska, but they must be licensed. Here’s what a typical payday loan might look like in the state:
- Maximum loan amount: $500
- Maximum Interest Rate (APR): 456.25%
- Minimum loan term: 10 days
- Maximum loan term: 31 days
Statute of limitations on debt in Alaska
In Alaska, the statute of limitations on debt ranges from three to six years on most debts:
- Medical debt: Three years
- Credit card: Three years
- Auto loan debt: Four years
- State tax debt: Six years or no limit
Knowing the statute of limitations can help if you’re being harassed by debt collectors.
State hardship programs
Like much of the United States, Alaska has many state-specific and federally-funded programs to help in times of economic hardship. These include:
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): HUD recently sent out a press release in response to a large storm that caused flooding and landslides in September 2022. This press release offers various resources for residents who need different types of assistance.
- Housing rental help: HUD also offers reduced rent to low-income tenants. It also connects renters to different resources in Alaska, such as affordable apartments.
- Disaster relief for FHA homeowners: Offered through HUD, this resource offers additional aid to FHA loan borrowers seeking disaster relief. HUD has communicated with FHA lenders to see which borrowers might be impacted due to disasters. Depending on the situation, they might waive late fees or even grant a moratorium (payment pause).
- Mainstream Voucher Program: This program Alaskans with disabilities who are homeless or in transition from an institutional setting to find affordable housing.
- Single Family Housing Repair and Grants Program: The Section 504 Home Repair program helps very low-income homeowners fix or modernize their homes through loans.
- Alaska Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP): LIHEAP is federally funded and helps individuals pay for heating and cooling. It can also help with weatherization. For more information, head to the Alaska Department of Health website.
- Alaska Weatherization Assistance Program: This program helps low-income households, elderly residents, and those with disabilities weatherize their homes.
- Denali KidCare — Alaska Children’s Health Insurance Program: Part of Medicaid, this program is for residents under the age of 18 and pregnant women. It’s essentially the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for Alaska.
- Women, Children, and Family Health: The primary mission of this resource is to promote women’s and children’s health. It does this through educational services, coordination with healthcare systems and organizations, and through community work.
- SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: This federally funded program is designed to help low-income households pay for food.
- Alaska Combined Application Project: This program can benefit low-income seniors who are at risk of hunger or food insecurity.
- WIC (Women, Infants, and Children): WIC helps qualifying residents gain access to counseling, nutritious food, and other educational resources.
- Immigration and Citizenship Resources: This resource offers immigration resources and services, ranging from obtaining citizenship to getting a green card.
Help for Veterans
Alaska is home to approximately 71,454 veterans, according to the Alaska Department of Veteran Affairs. The Alaska Department of Military and Veteran Affairs offers many resources to help veterans who are currently facing homelessness, unemployment, or other financial hardships.
Facilities in Alaska
Need a VA in Alaska? Here are some of the major ones:
- Anchorage VA Medical Center: 1201 North Muldoon Road Anchorage, AK 99504-6104; (888) 353-7574
- Elmendorf-Richardson VA Clinic: 5955 Zeamer Avenue, 673rd Medical Group, Building 673 Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK 99506-3702; (907) 257-4700
- Fairbanks VA Clinic: 4076 Neeley Road, Room 1J-101 Fort Wainwright, AK 99703-1110; (888) 353-7574
- Homer VA Clinic: 4141 Pennock Street Homer, AK 99603-7223; (888) 353-7574
- Anchorage Vet Center: 4400 Business Park Boulevard Suite B-34 Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 563-6966
- Fairbanks Vet Center: 540 4th Avenue Suite 100 Fairbanks, AK 99701; (907) 456-4238
- Anchorage Regional Office: 1201 N Muldoon Road Anchorage, AK 99504; (800) 827-1000
- Fort Richardson National Cemetery: Bldg 58-512, Davis Hwy Fort Richardson, AK 99505; (907) 384-7075
Employment resources for Veterans
The Department of Labor offers priority of service for veterans and veterans’ spouses living in Alaska. Those covered by this may receive priority when it comes to getting a job, job-related training, and so forth.
With that in mind, here are some key resources for qualifying veterans and their families seeking work or job training:
- CareerOneStop for job advice, an online job search portal, and various career resources
- MilitaryHire.com for helping veterans and spouses find employment
- VeteranRecruiting.com offering virtual career fairs and employment resources
- Helmets to Hardhats for networking opportunities, particularly for those transitioning into the construction industry
- Hiring Our Heroes for hiring opportunities and networking events with potential employers
- My Next Move with many job-related resources for veterans who want to use their military-earned skills in civilian life
- Warriors to Work for connecting companies and veterans
The bottom line
Several forms of debt relief in Alaska exist, such as debt settlement, DIY plans, debt management plans, and credit counseling services. The state also has many programs at the state or federal level to help those seeking financial assistance for things like affordable housing and healthcare.
Every Alaskan resident, except for those who’ve been convicted of a state felony or are incarcerated, can receive an annual fund in the form of dividends. This sovereign wealth fund comes from the surplus revenues from Alaska’s gas and oil reserves. As of July 2022, the total value of the fund was $75.08 billion. Qualifying individuals could receive around $1,100 a year. For more information and eligibility requirements, check with the Department of Revenue.
If you qualify for Alaska’s permanent resident fund, you may receive a yearly stipend. Certain companies may also help with relocation costs if you move to the state.
Most consumer debts can be collected for three to six years. Certain state tax debts have no time limit, though.
It generally begins on the date of the most recent or missed payment.
If the debt is incurred during the marriage, it will usually be split evenly between both spouses. Debts from before the marriage are not usually split, meaning they belong to the person whose name they’re under.