SHEFA eyes waiving ‘touchback rule’ for active-duty

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Posted on Oct 06 2020

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The Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance is looking into waving the requirement for SHEFA recipients who are on active-duty in the U.S. military from returning to the CNMI at once and working here.

SHEFA board member Kaelani Demapan suggested waiving this requirement for recipients who are enlisted in active-duty. Demapan added that they are looking into offering this relief based on the number of years the recipient has served in the armed forces.

Section 8 of SHEFA rules requires recipient to come back to Saipan nine months after completing their degree or six months after non-enrollment. Once the person is back on Saipan, they have to work in the private or public sector for a minimum of three years. Recipients who fail to abide by this rule are considered debtors who must repay the money SHEFA gave them, or be considered in default. Under SHEFA’s Title 165, local rules and regulations, section 11, a SHEFA recipient who is enlisted in the U.S. armed forces can request for a deferral of this requirement.

SHEFA board member Oscar M. Babauta said there needs more clarification on active duty, adding that, before they can go any further, their legal counsel has to look into the language of “prior, before, during, or after” an individual’s service to determine if one has defaulted.

Babauta said he agrees with the proposal but wants more clarification on how SHEFA can make this amendment.

Vice chairman Juan K. Tenorio also agrees that it needs to be “more solid and more effective,” adding that the proposal can be used as a guideline on how they can approach the proposal and come up with a well-grounded regulation.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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