Recipients of financial aid from the CNMI Scholarship Office may see changes in their grant awards this fall semester after its administrator affirmed that such changes are possible.
Administrator Rose Pangelinan disclosed that the expected changes will be with the Educational Assistance Program, or EAP, but by how much the grants will be reduced is not known yet.
“Award amounts haven’t been determined [for this semester]. The amount is contingent upon the fiscal year 2014 budget, how many are the eligible EAP recipients, and the final award amount for all Honors Scholarship recipients,” she said.
Pangelinan’s office handles two scholarship programs: the EAP and the Honors scholarship program.
Under the EAP program, eligible applicants receive $1,050 per semester if they are pursuing education outside the Commonwealth. For EAP recipients enrolled at the Northern Marianas College, the financial assistance amounts to $908 per school year and $700 for quarter scholars.
According to Pangelinan, the Scholarship Office will pay all ongoing Honor Scholarship recipients first; the remainder will be for EAP recipients.
Honor recipients get up to $15,000 per semester, depending on the “unmet” needs of students. There are currently 40 scholars under this program, studying here and abroad.
The Honors scholarship program has stopped accepting new applicants beginning this semester as a result of the expiration of the sunset provision that created the program. All current beneficiaries are being assisted just so they complete their degrees.
Pangelinan cited several factors for the possible changes in the award amount for EAP. First is the new budget for fiscal year 2014, which remains pending at the Legislature.
Pangelinan also said that a student’s “unmet” needs are expected to increase if the Honor Scholarship recipient will move from a community college to a university.
The number of EAP applicants, she said, also continues to rise among off-island students. Scholarship Office records show that 619 applicants were eligible in the fall 2012 semester, most of which were EAP scholars. This fall 2013 semester has already 928 applicants. Of this number, only 43 are covered by the Honor Scholarship program.
In fiscal year 2013, the budget for both scholarship programs totaled $1.6 million. For the new fiscal year, the administration has proposed $1.2 million.
Financial aid for the fall 2013 semester scholars will be sourced from the new budget appropriated by the Legislature.
Fiscal year 2014 is from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014.