Washington, DC – Thursday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata announced she has teamed up with Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI) for the introduction of the bipartisan Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa College Access Act to provide tuition assistance to students in the islands.
The Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa College Access Act would authorize tuition assistance grants to cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition costs for Northern Marianas and American Samoa community college graduates wanting to go on and attend a four-year public university, or seek to complete a four-year degree program.
“We have many good students that study at our accredited community college. That’s a great start, but our students deserve the same access from that point to a four-year University degree that students in the 50 States have because of in-State tuition opportunities,” said Aumua Amata. “This bill would help correct that major financial disadvantage, and give our students better opportunities to pursue goals for higher education.”
Congresswoman Amata with Congressman Sablan during Committee work this week
This bill, introduced by Rep. Sablan this week with Rep. Amata as the original cosponsor, emphasizes the importance of education for the future of both Territories, the local economies, and our students, and their ability to compete in the modern, interconnected job market throughout the country.
“Thank you to Congressman Sablan for introducing this important effort for our students,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “In-State tuition ensures many students in every State have a chance to complete a four-year college education that they might otherwise not be able to afford. That’s a wonderful concept, and this bill would extend an equivalent possibility to our students from American Samoa and the Northern Marianas.”
The need is clear. Household incomes in the Northern Marianas are less than half the national median, while American Samoa is geographically and economically isolated, causing poverty concerns and the need for more jobs and better jobs.
According to the College Board, nonresident students end up spending $14,480 more on average just to cover out-of-state tuition and fees. Currently, that’s a cost our students can’t avoid. Students in the Marianas and American Samoa also face the significant added expenses of flight tickets to even the nearest State, Hawaii.
The bill is based on the precedent of Public Law 106-98, the DC College Access Act, which allows students residing in the District of Columbia to apply for grants to help pay the cost of attending colleges outside DC, however, this bill does not cost nearly as much as the DC Act that it’s modeled after.