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Thursday, April 17, 2014

SHEFA supports financial aid for NMTI students once it reopens

Students of Northern Marianas Trade Institute who are found eligible for the scholarship awards may soon get financial aid after the institute obtained the assurance of the Saipan Higher Educational Financial Assistance board.

SHEFA board vice chair Jose C. Mafnas disclosed that the board fully supports the NMTI and is willing to extend scholarship awards to eligible students as soon as classes at the institute begin.

SHEFA offers three scholarship grants: grand-in-aid, field of study, and incentive programs. Funding for these awards are sourced from revenues collected from poker machines.

NMTI, which has been in existence for eight years, was forced to suspend its classes due to its dwindling financial condition. It has yet to issue a schedule for its full re-opening.

Mafnas told Saipan Tribune that NMTI director Vic Cepeda and Joe Torres recently attended a SHEFA board meeting where the board conveyed its assurance of support for the institute.

“I am convinced the NMTI is in good hands with the new board members. I am in support of financial aid to the NMTI students once it is reopened,” Mafnas said. He, however, pointed out that NMTI students must first meet SHEFA’s requirements.

NMTI is accredited with its construction curriculum and plans to seek and obtain corresponding certification for its tourism hospitality curriculum. Under a new board, the institution is set to secure requisite local and federal funding in order to resume offering classes to students.

Pioneered by the late businessman Anthony Pellegrino, NMTI has produced more than 400 graduates since its inception in 2008. It was created to develop a local manpower on island that would replace the foreign workers who may exit the Commonwealth as a result of immigration transition.

U.S. PL 110-229’s five-year transition period to replace foreign contract workers with a trained local workforce is set to expire in December 2014.

Meantime, Mafnas disclosed that SHEFA scholars will most likely receive the same grant amounts for their studies this new semester as the board is not thinking of adjusting the financial grants.

“The SHEFA board has not considered reducing or suspending programs or scholarship amounts for spring 2014,” Mafnas told Saipan Tribune.

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