Colonia, Yap. December 2, 2014 – On November 30, 2014, Senator Urusemal and Senator Figir, on their return to Yap after the Fifth Special Session of the FSM Congress, met with the University Students from the State of Yap studying at various institutions in Guam. The primary purpose of their visit was to discuss the recent changes in laws on the FSM National Scholarship, and other development efforts of the FSM Congress.
The UOG Yapese Student Organization organized the meeting, and it brought together Yapese students studying at the University of Guam (UOG), Guam Community College (GCC), and the Pacific Island University (PIU).
Yap State Senator John Masiwemai, who is the Vice Chairman of the Committee on Resources, Education, and Development (RED) for the Eighth Yap State Legislature, also took part in the meeting.
The Senators informed the students that Congress during its Fifth Regular Session last September acted to increase the appropriation for the FSM National Scholarship to $2 million for fiscal year 2015.
In increasing the scholarship appropriation, Congress also opted to increase the Grade Point Average (GPA) eligibility requirement from 2.5 to 3.0.
Senator Urusemal, who chairs the Congressional Committee on Education, shared that Congress’ intent of increasing the GPA eligibility requirement is to “promote and reward true scholarly achievements”, if not serve as a motivation for the students to strive for the best grades.
Congress, however, during its recently concluded Fifth Special Session acted to reverse this eligibility requirement by lowering it back to 2.5. Some Members of Congress felt that the increase in GPA requirement was too sudden, drastically affecting over 150 scholarship applicants whose GPA were between 2.5 and 3.0 this semester.
The students also shared with the Senators their frustrations with the FSM National Scholarship claiming that at times they are left in the dark.
“We get no notifications whatsoever. We have to call the FSM National Scholarship Office to find out if our applications were received, if we were awarded, and when to expect our scholarship awards. This semester is coming to an end, and most of us have not received our scholarship awards. Some of us don’t even know if we are even awarded”, claimed one student.
The Senators noted the concerns to take it up in their next oversight hearing with the Scholarship office.
The Senators also encouraged the students to commit to their studies and aim to graduate on time, further sharing the financial challenges of the Government that may lie ahead, especially in anticipation of the termination of the US financial assistance to the FSM under the amended Compact of Free Association scheduled to end in 2023.
Senator Figir pleaded with the students to “work hard to finish [their] degrees in 4 years. Our Government is running low on money.”
Senator Urusemal further explained that “around $81 million annually to the FSM under the amended compact is set to cease in 2023. It is also estimated that the Compact Trust Fund will have a shortfall of around $500 million from the $1 billion aim.”
Further encouraging the students to finish up their education and bring a new wave of attitude and dedication that will move the Federation’s workforce and private sector forward.
The students also received updates on a number of Congressional efforts including those related to the FSM Tax Reform initiative, the FSM Trust Fund, Burden Sharing with the States, and Climate Change initiatives.
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