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Senators Target Student Loans for Education Revenue

In times of financial crisis, you have to get creative, and collecting some outstanding student loan money might help the V.I. Board of Education cover a few critical needs, senators said Tuesday.

Appearing before the Senate’s Appropriations and Budget Committee, board officials presented a fiscal year 2010 General Fund budget request of $2.6 million — a $52,155 decrease over last year’s General Fund appropriation. The board’s budget also includes $12,639 in federal funds and $625,000 in non-appropriated funds, for an overall budget of approximately $3.2 million.

Of that amount, $796,035 will go toward personnel services, $279,517 to fringe benefits, $35,000 to supplies, $25,171 toward utility costs and $2.1 million toward the "other services and charges category," which covers everything from travel expenses to rent.

A large chunk of the General Fund money is also put toward student scholarships. The Territorial Scholarship and Loan Program was funded at $1.2 million this fiscal year, covering 541 out of the 819 students that applied for financial aid. For FY 2009, 780 students have applied and will be getting $1,500 each. Board members have discussed bumping the amount up to $3,000, which would mean another $1 million a year, according to the board’s chairwoman, Winona A. Hendricks.

The board needs another $30,000 to conduct an audit, along with another $45,000 for a court settlement. Committee chairman Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe suggested that the board be more aggressive in collecting outstanding student loan money, which adds up to $252,000 for the past five years alone.

Present during Tuesday’s meeting were Sens. Craig W. Barshinger, Dowe, Louis P. Hill, Wayne James, Nelson, Sammuel Sanes, Patrick Simeon Sprauve and Michael Thurland.

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