By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Students will soon be able to pursue eligible health care education at a fraction of the cost following the enactment of Bill 158-36, also known as the "Biråda Act."
Now Public Law P.L. 36-88, the Biråda Act supports the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), which allows students to access health care programs along the western coast and receive substantial tuition support from their home state or territory.
Students pursuing a degree in 10 health fields, from medicine to dentistry to veterinary science, can save between $34,100 to $133,600 on tuition over the duration of a health degree study.
Under the Biråda Act, when a student receives funding support for health care education, as part of their service requirement, they must return and practice on Guam after they graduate.
“Guam’s healthcare demands have always exceeded the supply. By tapping into our existing partnership with WICHE, we are opening a wonderful opportunity for our students to access quality healthcare education at a fraction of the cost,” said Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes.
“Biråda means 'return' or 'round-trip. We hope that students see their time away getting an education as a temporary period and come back home to serve our island and bolster our healthcare system," Muna Barnes said.
Since 2016, Guam has partnered with and benefited from WICHE through regional collaboration, resource-sharing, public policy, and innovation. Through this membership, local families have saved $3.4 million in college tuition since then.
In school year 2019-2020, 87 Guam students saved $1.2 million on tuition. This makes the current return on Guam’s $78,000 yearly investment 1,518 percent.
“WICHE allows us students to focus on getting our education instead of focusing on how to pay for our education. As someone still contemplating what school to go to, knowing this is an option for students like me is such a relief. It makes it possible for many of us to pursue our dreams and give back to our island,” said Paulynn Lujan, Youth Vice Speaker for Island Leadership Day.