Bill seeks to preserve merit scholarships

Senator Amanda Shelton (file photo)

Senator Amanda Shelton has introduced Bill 253-34 to preserve the benefits of the merit scholarship as originally signed by merit scholars attending UOG today.

Public Law 34-151, passed in December 2018, changed the formulation of the merit scholarship, significantly reducing the award for many merit scholars.

This change altered the financial situation for many merit scholarship students who had signed a contract with certain financial aid formulation in mind and planned and counted on a stable amount of benefit from their scholarship.

Many merit scholars also chose UOG over other universities and scholarship packages they offered because of the original formulation of the merit scholarship. Their financial aid award was able to cover a variety of expenses in addition to tuition and fees, their financial aid award also covered books and supplies, room and board, and transportation.

With the change in formulation effectuated by Public Law 34-151 students may be unable to pay for rent or transportation expenses. This also affects their graduate and doctoral pursuits. Furthermore, to change the award distributed while maintaining the years of service required under the merit scholarship without their consent is a clear violation of their contract.

Many students worked hard in high school in order to obtain this scholarship with the benefit of the original formulation in mind and subsequently turned down scholarships at other universities to accept the merit scholarship contract. Bill 253-35 would preserve the original merit scholarship formulation for merit scholars already on contract and have the merit scholarship encompass the total cost of attendance for future merit scholars.

“Merit scholars worked hard all throughout their high school career to attain this scholarship. Many of them chose to attend UOG because of the original formulation of the merit scholarship and turned down other scholarship offers from other schools because of it. They also signed a contract dedicating years of service back to our community in exchange for this scholarship. To change their scholarship formulation in the middle of their college education would cause significant financial constraints and is simply unjust,” said Senator Shelton in a news release.

“We need to do more to ensure our homegrown talent stays on Guam because their success is the success of our whole island.”