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SHEFA may temporarily stop merit incentive award

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DUE to the looming financial crisis in the CNMI following the reduction of flights as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance board is contemplating to “temporarily” stop providing merit incentives to scholarship recipients.

SHEFA board chair Oscar M. Babauta has tasked committee on award chair Francisco D. Cabrera to look into the proposal.

“The financial circumstances of this program are unpredictable,” Babauta said amid reports that the central government is reducing its fiscal year 2020 budget.

SHEFA administrator Merissa S. Rasa said each scholarship recipient on island receives $1,000 in merit incentives, $1,500 for those off-island; and $1,000 for those who have enrolled in online courses either on- or off-island.

The merit incentive award is a type of financial assistance based on academic performance.

Applicants in their first term of college are not eligible to receive the merit incentive award. Students taking remedial or developmental courses in fulfillment of a full-time status are also not eligible for the merit incentive award.

SHEFA also provides a grant-in-aid amounting to $800 for each recipient, and $1,000 for priority field of study for those on-island.

Off-island students each receive $1,200 in grant-in-aid; $1,000 in priority field of study; and $4,500 for those at the advanced degree level.

In fiscal year 2018, SHEFA disbursed $610,600 in grant-in-aid; $129,000, for priority field; and $222,500 in merit incentives.

SHEFA’s primary funding source are the island’s annual poker license fee collections.

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