New bill sets aside funding to send kids to college - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

New bill sets aside funding to send kids to college

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 by Isa Baza

Guam - Could every high school student graduate with money set aside for them to attend college? Legislation has been introduced by freshman senator and former superintendent of the Department of Education Dr. Nerissa Underwood.

The high price of college education has taken the spotlight recently with President Barack Obama's proposal to make two years of community college free, even though it is unclear whether Guam will be included. The Guam Legislature, however, is taking this issue into its own hands with Bill 35. Senator Underwood said, "Today I'm introducing the First Generation Trust Fund Initiative 59 which will establish a trust account for each eligible 9th grader in Guam's public schools to be used upon high school graduation for attendance at the University of Guam or the Guam Community College," she explained.

The trust will provide each student an account with $500 ready to contribute to their college education. Students, their families or corporations where they perform community service are also encouraged to contribute.

Providing this money is supposed to be an incentive to encourage greater postsecondary enrollment of high school students. "Currently, 65% of high school graduates in the US attend a two-year or four-year institution immediately after graduation," the senator stated.

However on Guam less than 40% of our high school graduates attend college. at the same time, by 2020 over 65% of jobs will require some college, which means that without any college experience, students will be competing for only 35% of what are likely lower paying jobs. Bill 35 hopes to break that cycle.

Speaker Judi Won Pat says she supports the bill, telling KUAM News, "We really need to start making our children think about that; hopefully now the superintendant now will go out and tell every child and the principals will do the same thing, and the teachers, that you have $500 waiting for you at UOG or GCC to go to school. Take advantage of it!"

DOE, UOG, GCC, and the Foundation for Public Education have agreed to contribute $500,000 annually to the program if it is passed by the Guam Legislature. DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez said, "We're going to show them not only that we care, like you said, but that also we're willing to make an investment 735 the investment that DOE will be making is well worth it."

With investment in Guam's high school graduates, Underwood hopes that students will begin to see their college education as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. 
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