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SHEFA may join national group

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THE Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance program is considering joining a national organization of other groups involved in providing educational assistance.

These include the National Scholarship Providers Association and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

However, joining either  of them requires paying a membership fee — the National Scholarship Providers Association charges government agencies $840 to $1,495 per year, depending on the membership level chosen, while the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators collects $730 a year from an organization that disburses over $1 million to $10 million a year. In 2019, SHEFA disbursed over $2.9 million to over 1,500 recipients.

SHEFA board chairman Oscar M. Babauta said membership in a national organization will allow SHEFA to participate in webinars and other online training sessions.

Two years ago, he said, SHEFA sent two of its staffers to a National Scholarship Providers Association conference in New Mexico. Because SHEFA is not a member of the organization, it cost  almost $10,000 to attend the conference. 

 

Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance program board chairman Oscar M. Babauta speaks during a meeting at the Saipan Mayor’s Office in San Jose, on Thursday. Also in photo are administrator Merissa Rasa, board members Francisco D. Cabrera, Kaelani Demapan,  Juan K. Tenorio and Raymond M. Mafnas. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

SHEFA administrator Merissa Rasa said joining  a national organization will give SHEFA an opportunity to learn about best practices in implementing scholarship programs.

Moreover, SHEFA can participate in webinars and online training for professional development, she added.

The National Scholarship Providers Association is holding a virtual conference from Oct. 5 to 9, but  because of the time difference between Saipan [and the host], SHEFA will not be able to participate.

“But even if we won't be attending next week's conference online, the tracks/courses will be available on a later date and we will be able to choose which best fits our needs or we can see them all,” Rasa said.

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