The CNMI government has spent a total of $21.291 million in financial assistance for its scholars here and abroad in the nine-year period since the inception of the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance in 2004, according to latest program figures.
The SHEFA annual report for 2012 also indicates a total of $17,356 that’s been collected from defaulted scholars from 2004 through 2012.
Prepared by SHEFA administrator Merissa S. Rasa, the 45-page document shows that biggest total amount awarded by SHEFA to its scholars was in 2010, amounting to $3.654 million, followed by the $3.078 million awarded in 2009. Another $3.026 million was awarded to scholars in 2008.
The following are the total awards disbursed to SHEFA scholars in a nine-year span: 2004 ($170,600); 2005 ($1.925 million); 2006 ($2.782 million); 2007 ($2.302 million); 2008 ($3.026 million); 2009 ($3.078 million); 2010 ($3.654 million); 2011 ($2.810 million); and 2012 ($1.540 million).
SHEFA provides financial aid not only to undergraduates pursuing their associate degree or baccalaureate degree but to graduates who wish to pursue their master’s degree or doctorate. The program offers three kinds of scholarships: grant-in-aid, field of study, and performance-based or incentive award. Its source of funds is the government’s annual collection from poker machines and licenses. All financial grants are awarded twice a year—in the fall and spring terms.
SHEFA policy dictates that within three months of completing their courses, scholars are required to return to Saipan to work in the private or public sector. If a former recipient decides to remain and work abroad three months after completing or terminating their college studies, that grant assistance automatically converts into a loan. When this happens, the grant recipient must repay SHEFA the amount awarded with interest.
Based on SHEFA records, repayment collections from 2004 to 2012 totaled $17,356.
Repayments only started in 2006, during which SHEFA collected $553 from defaulted scholars. In 2007, loan collection totaled $3,525. In 2008, this was at $2,538. In 2009, collection was at $2,325.
SHEFA also recorded loan collections of $2,000 in 2010; $5,745 in 2011; and $666 in 2012.
A big portion of SHEFA scholars are taking or have taken social sciences and fine arts programs, representing 35 percent of beneficiaries. These programs include behavioral science, sociology, psychology, political science, communications, art, and law.
Meantime, 26 percent of SHEFA scholars have taken or are taking education course; 12 percent chose business courses; and 15 percent chose medical and allied fields, including biology, nursing, physical therapy, and dentistry.
Accounting only yielded 6 percent, while 5 percent of scholars pursue computer science and information technology courses.
The top five colleges and universities being attended by SHEFA scholars are the Northern Marianas College, University of Guam/Guam Community College, Chaminade University, Portland Community College, and Boise State University.