American Samoa Senator Suggests Limiting Scholarships To Local Community College

Students who go off-island 'get lost in the shuffle'

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 25, 2017) – Sen. Galea’i M. Tu’ufuli has suggested that the American Samoa Student Financial Aid board, also known as the ASG Scholarship board, look at financing scholarships for students attending the American Samoa Community College to start off their college education life.

Galeai first raised the suggestion during a Senate Education Committee hearing last week Wednesday for the confirmation of the governor’s re-nomination of members to the board of Higher Education, which governs ASCC.

According to the Manu’a senator, he has heard that the Scholarship Board wanted another $1 million for its annual budget. However, he says he has requested the board to provide a complete report on expenditures of the scholarship fund, which covered students who were recipients in the last five years.

“I made the request six months ago and I’m still waiting on the request,” said Galeai, who added that he is thinking of sponsoring a bill, which will provide scholarships for only students attending ASCC after graduating from local high schools.

Galeai said students from American Samoa heading off island to colleges and universities “get lost in the shuffle” and these students are not use to the life off island attending college, because they just graduated from local high school and went directly to college off island.

With students not understanding life off island for college students, they end up not making it through the first year or even the first semester, Galea’i said and noted that he believes it’s good to start college life from ASCC and complete higher degrees — such as a bachelor — off island.

Monsignor Viane Etuale, who attended the ASCC board of higher education confirmation hearing along with re-nominees Rev. Dr. Siulagi Solomona, Tauiliili Lauifi and Annie Fuavai, acknowledged Galea’i’s suggestion. He also said this is also the board’s recommendation to parents to start college life at ASCC.

The Senate later confirmed all four re-appointments to the board, which were already endorsed by the House.

Then on Thursday, Galeai raised the suggestion, during the confirmation hearing for Student Financial Aid board members, Sen Fai’ivae Iuli Godinet, Rep. Ve’evalu Meauta Mageo, Donna Gurr and Ruth Matagi-Fa’atili.

Galeai said he had spoken with Fai’ivae regarding his suggestion, adding that parents who can afford to send their child off island after graduating from high school, can do so on their own.

“Utilize ASCC first to get college life for the first two years,” said Galeai, whose suggestion was supported by Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean.

Sen. Satele Galu Satele Sr. suggested that the board look at scholarships for students in special trade areas, such as technicians and engineers.

The Senate plans to later call in the board to ask other specific questions about the scholarship since they are a new board, now confirmed by the Fono.

In his nomination letter, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said Gurr has been an educator for 30 years and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Master degree in Elementary Education.

Matagi-Fa’atili currently serves as Development Bank of American Samoa president. Her financial and public administration knowledge will serve the board well, the governor said.

Fai’ivae, who is appointed by the Senate President to the board, is the Senate Education Committee chairman, and Ve’evalu, who is appointed by the House Speaker, chairs the House Education Committee.

Non-voting ex officio board members are Human Resources director Eseneiaso J. Liu; Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga and ASCC president Dr. Rosevonne Pato, according to the governor.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2017. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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