The CNMI Scholarship Office will be drawing funds from a revolving account to ensure that its program and operation will not be affected despite a shortfall in its fiscal year 2020 budget.
According to Scholarship Office board chair Geralyn Dela Cruz, the office’s fiscal year 2020 budget is roughly about $400,000 less than fiscal year 2019’s, largely due to the austerity measures and cuts implemented by the CNMI government.
The office originally asked for $2.1 million for its fiscal year 2020 budget but Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ budget request with the Legislature trimmed this amount to $1.9 million.
Dela Cruz said she spoke with administrator Rose Camacho about the subsidizing the shortfall through the office’s revolving account funds, which consist of the collections that the CSO gets through its student scholarship loans.
The board, consisting of Dela Cruz and Charlene Masiwemai, approved the motion to use the revolving account funds in order to ensure that the office’s programs will stay stable.
“I’d like to see that we continue our programs to aid the students of the CNMI in obtaining their postsecondary degrees, and eventually, we will see our investment return with these students returning to the workforce,” Dela Cruz said.
The office, along with the numerous government agencies of the CNMI, will be seeing lower budgets this fiscal year 2020 due to the lingering effects of the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018. Dela Cruz said that the office is ready to work with the central government regarding this matter and will do whatever they can to keep CNMI students in college.
In her report to the board, Camacho said that most of the office’s operations—with the exception of employee salaries—will be paid through the revolving account funds. Camacho said the office has is implementing cost-cutting measures such as cutting travel.
Camacho said she has been informed that the office’s fiscal year 2020 budget has not seen any changes, aside from the decrease that the Office of the Governor did to the entire budget.
The office normally spends around $800,000 to $900,000 for the fall semester. However, the office spent over $1 million this fall semester due to the increased number of applicants.
The budget is currently being reviewed by Torres and must be signed by Sep. 30, 2019, in order to avert a CNMI government shutdown.