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FSM reinstates scholarships for students abroad

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Federated States of Micronesia's National Department of Education has announced the full restoration of the FSM scholarship program following congressional approval of the agency's supplemental budget request.

The scholarship budget has increased from $500,000 to $3 million.

"This means that students who are currently on the FSM scholarship will continue to receive their awarded scholarship," said Wayne Mendiola, acting secretary of education.

On Guam, Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes said the reinstatement of the FSM scholarship program has resolved the financial quagmire facing FSM students currently enrolled at the University of Guam.


“It would have been unfortunate and disastrous if the FSM government could not find a way to restore millions in scholarships for the next generation of Micronesian leaders,” Muña Barnes said. “Advocates, including the Guam Youth Congress, UOG management and its Student Government Association and the FSM students themselves have spent months rectifying this situation, and I’m humbled to have been asked to join this now successful endeavor.”


Muña Barnes has lobbied for members of the FSM National Congress to increase the budget of the country’s National Department of Education earmarked for scholarships, including those for FSM students who attend UOG. Her efforts included a letter to congressional leaders in January about the budgetary reduction, which would have decreased available scholarships from $3 million to $500,000.


Her letter called the reduction a “real threat” to Guam and FSM’s shared goal of educating the next generation of regional leaders, and outlined the negative impacts facing Guam’s university through lost tuition and dormitory fees.


“Most importantly, however, is the possibility that a bright and promising Micronesian would lose their dream of attaining a degree and beginning a good and prosperous career,” she wrote. “As the chairperson for the Guam’ Legislature’s Committee on Regional Affairs, I stand committed to assisting you and UOG – so we may try to bring an equitable and just decision to these students, 70 of whom have already reached out to my office and attested to their concerns and feared impacts caused by this funding reduction in the documents attached to this letter.”


Two students who signed on to a petition the vice speaker shared with FSM’s leaders expressed their relief over the funding resolution.


"On behalf of the students from Yap, as well as the FSM students studying at UOG, I would like to formally and respectfully thank the members of the 23rd FSM Congress for their hard work in restoring funding for the FSM national scholarship, which aids FSM students studying abroad," Jarvis Falow, the treasurer of the UOG Yap Student Organization and president of the UOG Residence Halls Governing Council said.

"I would like to especially thank Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes of the 37th Guam Legislature for advocating for FSM students studying at the University of Guam. As a student hailing from the FSM, my education relies heavily on this scholarship. It serves as a crucial lifeline for me to pursue my academic goals and contribute meaningfully to my community."


Another affected student stressed his belief that rallying together would make a positive difference.


“It thrills me to hear that the initial budget funding of $500,000 was increased to $3 million. There is truly power in numbers, but the power I speak of is a humbling feeling,” said Adifson Namelo, president of UOG’s Chuuk Student Organization. “We are humbled by the wonderful decision made by our lawmakers at the national level of our government.”



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