Representatives from the Department of Education Scholarship Office visited the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) last week to speak to students, faculty, and administrators about the revival of the American Samoa Government (ASG) student loan program, and that program’s new emphasis on supporting students who wish to enter Trades professions. Loans from ASG will now be available to support students who wish to go into one of the many fields that fall within the realm of Trades.
Mrs. Ane Tofili-Matagi of the Scholarship Office, with assistance from Ms. Moira Maiava, explained that until recently ASG has provided only scholarships for student applicants seeking to further their college education, but given the shortage of qualified Tradesmen and women in American Samoa, the decision has been made to make loans available for students pursuing careers in professions including Computer Technician, Electrician, Automotive Mechanic, Plumber, Welder, Architect, Civil Engineer, Carpenter, and many more.
Tofili-Matagi explained that students accepted into the Trades & Technical Program at ASCC may now apply for financial assistance loans of $2000 per semester for up to one year of study, although additional assistance may be available in cases where a Trades program requires a longer period of instruction. For those accepted into Trades programs at off-island colleges, universities, or specialty schools, the amount available per semester is $5000 for up to two years. To qualify, students must demonstrate a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or better, provide proof they are US citizens or nationals, and also have a co-signer for the loan who meets specified requirements.
Following her descriptions of the loans and the related requirements, Tofili-Matagi opened the floor to questions from students. She also asked for a show of hands to determine how many students in the audience were already involved in Trades studies. As it turned out, almost none of those present were currently pursuing that academic path, but the questions that followed gave a clear indication that many of the students had an interest in finding out more about the many fields that fall under the aegis of Trades.
ASCC President Dr. Rosevonne Makaiwi-Pato, herself a member of the DOE Scholarship Board, also spoke to the audience about opportunities for Trades-related careers in American Samoa. “As it stands, the Territory needs to bring in very many workers with advanced Trades skills to perform jobs no one else here has the skills or qualifications for,” she reminded the audience. “We sometimes make the mistake of only thinking of the Trades as jobs where you get your hands dirty, but where would we be without the individuals who can do this kind of work? At the same time, in today’s world, many of the Trades are now more technology-based than ever before, with the computer field being one obvious example.” Dr. Makaiwi-Pato encouraged any students who see themselves as potential Trades professionals to find out more about fields that may be of interest.
Information on courses offered by the ASCC Trades & Technical Department can be found in the ASCC Catalog, available for viewing online at www.amsamoa.edu. Applications for the student loan for study at ASCC can be picked up in the office of the College’s Division of Student Services. Those with questions about the ASG loan program can contact Mrs. Tofili-Matagi or Ms. Maiava of the DOE Scholarship Office at 633-5237.