The University of Guam’s top scholarship official told senators in a May budget hearing that an additional $500,000 was needed so UOG could afford its scholarship programs; and senators increased the scholarship budget accordingly. Despite this assertion to senators, that same official – financial aid director Mark Duarte – emailed Regent Scholarship recipients last month telling them there is not enough money to continue funding their college education.
Mr. Duarte, in May 17, 2021 testimony before the Guam Legislature, told senators that of the $3 million UOG received from its annual appropriation, the Regent Scholarship was among those funded. He went on to tell senators additional funding was needed to fund the Pro-Tech scholarship, and that scholarships for social workers, portions of the Yamashita Educator Corps, and the UOG Retention and Completion program, were not being funded. Senators responded by increasing funding to UOG for scholarships.
“At the time, we were informed by UOG that while they were not funding the ProTech scholarships which the Vice Speaker had advocated for, the Regent scholarships and the Merit Scholarships were being prioritized,” Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes’s senior aide, Chirag Bhojwani, told Kandit. “We will continue to look further into the matter and the budget bill, as well as look for ways to fill the void that need to be the appropriate route.”
The scholarship funding cut happened against the backdrop of a combined $2.2 million pay raise UOG’s administrators, including Duarte, paid themselves. The pay raises, as Kandit has reported, has increased the average annual pay of 50 out of 52 UOG managers by nearly $45,000 or a 50 percent jump in pay during the pandemic.
To place the pay raise into perspective, the combined budget for UOG scholarships in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget is $3,815,285. That is a fraction of the $6,840,727 taxpayers fork out to pay the base salaries of UOG’s managers. Even one-quarter the cost of the pay raises could save the Regent Scholarship, which is slated to be cut in the upcoming semester.