The Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance is looking at suspending the scholarship's incentive program, according to board vice chair Jose Mafnas, who said the proposal will be formally presented to the full board on Friday.
The incentive program is one of the three scholarships offered by SHEFA. The other two are the grant-in-aid and the field of study program.
According to Mafnas, he will propose the program's suspension for freshmen and sophomores only. If approved, the new policy will take effect in the fall 2013 semester.
Saipan Tribune learned that off-island recipients will be the ones most affected by this policy change.
It was learned that the proposed suspension of the incentive program is expected to result in 15 to 20 percent savings for SHEFA.
Mafnas said the proposed suspension is due to the declining number of poker machines that renew licenses with the government. As of January this year, Saipan had only about 500 licensed poker machines and the number continues to decrease, Mafnas said. Just last week, he said the licenses of four machines were not renewed.
SHEFA's budget is sourced from poker revenues and each fiscal year, the agency is allocated $3.1 million, of which $100,000 is for office operation. The rest goes to the scholarship programs.
The SHEFA board started reducing scholars' awards in spring 2011 due to the dwindling financial state of the government. Last year, the board also suspended the field-of-study grant to freshmen and sophomore scholars for the same reasons.