Friday, November 23, 2012

President Mori seeks Congress support in safeguarding COM-FSM in lieu of recent Pell Grant changes and fund reductions

FSM Information Services (November 23, 2012): President Manny Mori has called for enhanced leadership attention toward the College of Micronesia-FSM to ensure the college’s long-term sustainability amid external pressures from changes in Pell Grant eligibility, reductions in Compact scholarship funds and scaling down in Education Sector Grant (ESG) pursuant to resolution 2011-2 from the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO), which oversees the management and accountability of all Compact funds.
“The recent changes in Pell grant eligibility and reduction in compact scholarship funds are affecting the students’ ability to pay for their higher education. In addition, JEMCO had passed resolution 2011-2, which reduces Education Sector Grant (ESG) funding for the COM-FSM by $2,800,000 over the next four years starting with a reduction of $700,000 in FY2012. These are substantial impacts to COM-FSM and most especially, to our student”, the President expressed in his November 15 letter to Speaker Figir.
“In light of these impacts, it is in the best interest of the Nation to safeguard COM-FSM from losing its accreditation and at the same time, develop and implement long term sustainability of these programs through local revenue”, he further stated.
The college needs to garner leadership commitment from the nation’s policy makers to demonstrate to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges the existence of sustainable long-term financial basis to carry out its academic and related programs without compromising accreditation standards.
The FSM National Government has allocated $700,000 in FY13 budget toward the college to fill the gap in the college’s funds for that year created by the JEMCO ESG reduction.
According to the College of Micronesia-FSM, the elimination of the Year Round Pell Grant and the reduction in maximum number of semesters have impacted enrollment at the college. For Summer 2011, the change resulted in a 40 percent reduction in enrollment. As well, the reduction in the number of funded semesters from 18 to 12 made 66 enrolled BA and Fourth Year Certificate students needing other means of financial support.
Additionally, the formula for Pell Grant eligibility for institutions will be moving away from enrollment numbers to a weighted average of completion rates, persistence rates, and other measures of student and institutional performance. The current level of college readiness of students could have a serious impact on the college.
Given these circumstances, President Mori has asked the national leadership to step up support by means of funding increase and sustained commitment.

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