President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. (center) signed the law in the presence of senators and delegates on March 27.

A law was passed to provide grants, scholarships and loans for students who wish to pursue Post Graduate Studies on Wednesday.

President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Delegates said, “This bill exemplifies exactly what we are striving for in 2019.” He further added, “The Post Graduate Scholarship Act is a perfect representation of the quest for excellence, which we are trying to inspire and encourage in all our citizens.”

The students of priority field of study as well as non priority field of study to receive grants loan and scholarships from the Republic of Palau(ROP). However, the decision on what constitutes a “priority field” and a “non priority field” is with The Palau National Scholarship Board in collaboration with Bureau of Public Service System.

Although, the regulations issued by The Palau National Board will at minimum include law, medicine, education, special education and engineering as priority fields and the Board will determine if Palauan students in any other existing graduate school program require grant assistance.

Students who fulfill the eligibility criteria and receive the government aid are supposed to work in Palau for 3 years if in non priority field and 5 years if in priority field regardless of their academic success.

Even though this condition gives the student time of 2 years after failure or completion of their degree, if not met, the beneficiary is liable to pay the total amount of the support received with interest

In addition, those who fail to obtain their degree are liable to pay ROP 50% of total aid received within two years of cessation of degree studies.

As the students are required to work in Palau only in the field they had opted the financial aid for, if there are no jobs available, the priority field beneficiary can work for 2.5 years and the non priority field beneficiary can for 1.5 years while deadline to find a job remains 2 years.

Repayment of the loan from the fund taken by those enrolled in priority field will be forgiven if the beneficiary has completed the degree and is working in ROP within the given deadline for continuously 5 years.

However, it is only The Board and the Bureau of Public Service System that can determine if there is a job crunch in the chosen field of the beneficiary.

It will also determine if the beneficiary has searched for jobs “reasonably”. But, it is not clear how the system plans on assessing the reasonability. In this scenario, the beneficiary will have to pay back 50% of total aid received with interest.

The law also extends grant assistance for graduate students enrolled in Latin American School of Medicine as well as other relevant programs.

According to the new law passed, the students enrolled in Latin American School of Medicine on Cuban government scholarships maybe entitled to the annual grant assistance up to $5000 from the Board.

In 2012 a young Palauan high school graduate, Jason Arurang, a native of Peleliu was the first one to be offered the Cuban scholarship to attend the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM) or Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba. (Eshan Kalyanikar)