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Marianas Variety: Kilili introduces College Access Act (May 3, 2019)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan introduced legislation authorizing special federal tuition assistance for graduates of Northern Marianas College who want to pursue a four-year degree at any public university in the United States.

The grant would cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. Sablan’s bill, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa College Access Act, also applies to American Samoa Community College graduates. The Marianas and American Samoa are the only insular areas without four-year colleges.

“Students from the Marianas and Samoa face a significant financial barrier, if they want to get a bachelor’s degree,” Congressman Sablan said. “Nationwide, nonresident college students spend an average of $14,480 more on tuition than resident students.

“My legislation would cover that cost for students who have graduated from NMC with a two-year degree and want to go on with their education.”

Sablan included a similar provision in last year’s reauthorization of federal higher education policies, the Aim Higher Act. That bill, offered by Democrats, did not get a vote in the House of Representatives. But this year with Democrats in the majority it is expected that a higher education bill will make it to the floor.

Sablan, as a member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment, plans to add his College Access Act to that larger bill. He is also Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and has made education his signature issue during his congressional career.

“I believe that the key to success for the Marianas is an educated citizenry,” Sablan said. “For many that will mean more than a high school diploma. Postsecondary education is increasingly necessary to get a decent job with a decent wage.

“I will continue to work for ways to make college more affordable, so students from the Marianas have every opportunity to pursue their education.”

This week, Democrats in the House rolled out their spending plan for education in the coming fiscal year. That bill increases federal aid for college students to $24.9 billion, making the maximum Pell grants next year $6,345. The Trump administration has proposed cutting student aid.

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