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Scholarship grants will be reduced

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THE CNMI Scholarship Office board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved the reduction of scholarship grants to its more than 600 recipients starting in the spring semester.

During the board meeting, CSO Administrator Rose Camacho presented the office’s updated financial status as a result of the across-the-board budget cuts implemented by the central government.

For FY 2020, CSO’s approved appropriation was $1.9 million. This is now down to $1.5 million as a result of the 28.3% budget cut.

Of this amount, Camacho said about $1.1 million will go to scholarship grant recipients.

She said the CSO received 690 applicants and has approved 666 so far.

She asked the board to approve the reduction of scholarship grants by 28.3% to be implemented in the spring semester.

Each Educational Assistance Program or EAP recipient is supposed to receive $1,500 annually. With the board’s approval, the new amount is $1,074.99.

For the Priority Fields of Study or PFOS scholarship program, the grant per recipient will be reduced to $860.04 from $1,200.

The PFOS program is available to students of the following courses: STEM-related, business, education, casino management, nursing, culinary or cosmetology.

Students in the baccalaureate program will each receive $430.02 instead of $600 annually.

Incentives are also given to students who have a minimum of 3.5 GPA, enrolled in 15 or more credits, are majoring in an approved PFOS, and are juniors or seniors.

Each year, these students receive $900 under the incentive program, but the amount will be reduced to $645.03 annually.

For the Graduate School Loan Program, the amount is now $7,167 from $10,000 annually.

As for Prior Learning Assessment Program, the annual award, which used to be $689.76, has been reduced to $494.35.

In an interview, Camacho said these adjustments should be made in order to continue the scholarship program. “It is better that we adjust the grants than suspend or cancel one or of our programs,” she added.

The scholarship board members are chairwoman Geralyn C. Dela Cruz, Charlene S. Masiwemai, Zerlyn A. Taimanao, and Diane B. Hocog.

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