Government Caps Scholarships At $35K Each

June 21, 2013 | 19 Comments

naltonBCiting a reduced budget, Education Minister Nalton Brangman announced this morning [June 21] that the Bermuda Government Scholarships [BGS] will institute a ceiling of $35,000 for tuition and accommodation.

Previously the scholarship package extended from a low of $17,000 up to a high of almost $75,000 per school year for individual BGS recipients.

The total money spent on the BGS for the 2012-2013 school year was nearly $900,000. Eight scholarships are awarded, so the $35,000 cap equals a maximum expense of $280,000 for the eight students each year.

The Government also proposes to increase the length of the scholarship for future recipients from 3 years to 4 years, and also expand the age eligibility from 17 to 23 to 16 to 25 years of age.

Minister Brangman said, “”During the budget debate I explained that the Ministry of Education’s budget had been reduced and that a significant area of impact was scholarships and awards.

“The BGS is a very generous scholarship, but it is provided at the taxpayer’s expense and does not match the financial realities of the Ministry of Education and the Government of Bermuda,” continued Minister Brangman. “The current BGS regime is not sustainable, nor is it fiscally manageable. ”

“In recent years, the current scholarship package for BGS recipients has ranged from a low of $17,000 to a high of nearly $75,000 [$74,354 exactly] per school year for individual BGS recipients. The total money spent on the BGS for the 2012-2013 school year was nearly $900,000.”

Yesterday Finance Minister Bob Richards spoke about Government’s deficits, saying they intend to borrow three years of operating deficits at one time, which is expected to be in the range of $400-$800 million.

“It is important to emphasize that this Minister and this OBA government is unequivocally committed to the elimination of government deficits,” said Mr Richards. “However, in the meantime it is forecast that the government will likely run operational deficits in the next three to four years.”

Minister Brangman’s full statement follows below:

Good morning,

A bill titled the Bermuda Government Scholarships Amendment Bill 2013 was tabled in the House of Assembly earlier today.

You will recall that during the Budget Debate in March, I noted that the Government would make changes to the way in which Government Scholarships are awarded for further education.

The intent of the Bill tabled this morning is to make Bermuda Government Scholarships, also known by their acronym, the B.G.S., sustainable in the short, medium and long-term for Bermuda’s top scholars.

We propose a new regime for the Bermuda Government Scholarships, one that continues to recognise, honour and make significant financial contributions to the post-secondary education of Bermuda’s top academic achievers.

Under the proposed changes, we will institute a ceiling of $35,000 for tuition and accommodation, but provide important additional benefits by increasing the length of the Bermuda Government Scholarship for future recipients so that they can receive funding for 4 years instead of 3 years. We will also expand the age criteria to allow somewhat older and younger students to apply and receive the BGS.

During the budget debate I explained that the Ministry of Education’s budget had been reduced and that a significant area of impact was scholarships and awards.

The BGS is a very generous scholarship, but it is provided at the taxpayer’s expense and does not match the financial realities of the Ministry of Education and the Government of Bermuda.

The current BGS regime is not sustainable, nor is it fiscally manageable. The BGS regime would be challenged even during booming economic times because the monetary value of each scholarship varies depending on the school that each recipient attends.

If left unchanged, the existing provision threatens the entire provision of scholarships and awards as there would simply be no money left for existing recipients and potential BGS candidates into the future, or for other smaller financial awards that help students of financial need to attend post-secondary institutions.

The Bermuda Government Scholarships Act 2008 allows the Minister of Education to award up to 8 Bermuda Government Scholarships; this takes place based on a recommendation made by the Board of Education.

The Board vets, interviews and makes recommendations to the Minister of Education, who must not award a BGS to anyone who does not meet the standard set out by the Board of Education. This aspect of the current approach will not change.

The BGS is 3 years in duration and currently funds 100% of:

  • Living expenses for accommodation and food at a rate equal to the cost of dormitory accommodation for a single student;
  • a one-way airline ticket at the beginning of one’s studies; and
  • a one-way airline ticket to return to Bermuda upon successful completion
  • of one’s studies; and,
  • it also provides recipients, the total cost of their tuition for a period of three years.

In recent years, the current scholarship package for BGS recipients has ranged from a low of $17,000 to a high of nearly $75,000 ($74,354 exactly) per school year for individual BGS recipients. The total money spent on the BGS for the 2012-2013 school year was nearly $900,000.

We believe that we must keep the costs of the BGS within budget, and legislative changes are required to make this happen.

Most scholarships are for a fixed dollar amount which allows the trustees of scholarships to manage their budgets in ways that are fiscally prudent through careful planning and administration.

The Board of Education recommends the recipients, but does not choose where they attend college or university, making it impossible to plan and budget for the cost of the BGS. A student could be attending university in a small town in England with a low cost of living and pay U.K. domestic rates, while another might attend an expensive private university in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

We therefore propose to change the scholarship from one that covers airfare, food and accommodation, and an unlimited amount of tuition to a fiscally manageable regime where accommodation and tuition are covered up to a cap of $35,000.

This will allow the Ministry of Education to better predict, plan and budget for the maximum annual cost of Bermuda Government Scholarships going forward.

It will also allow us to have the money to honour our commitment to existing BGS recipients who are covered under the current BGS Act.

Aspects of the current BGS regime reflect a much earlier time when Bermudians who were able to attend university abroad, tended to travel to the U.K. to attain 3 year degrees. In today’s day and age, many undergraduate degrees are 4 years in length. Therefore, we also propose to extend the duration of the BGS from 3 years to 4 years to coincide with the typical number of years required to earn an undergraduate university degree.

Finally, we have also proposed to expand the age eligibility to allow students who are between the ages of 16 to 25 years to apply and receive the BGS. The current allowed age range is from 17 to 23 years of age.

These changes to the BGS regime reflect the current economic times, but also acknowledge the need to be fiscally prudent at all times, whether in periods of economic boom or an improving economy.

While the newly proposed BGS regime will result in a more responsible budget and spending for the BGS, it is done for students so that important investments in education are sustainable and will benefit students for years to come.

Thank you.

-

Share via email

Read More About: , ,

Category: All, News, Politics

Comments (19)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Second says:

    Now we are talking! Great work. This cap is more than sufficient assistance for anyone wanting to further their education.

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
  2. sounds legit says:

    ....taking from the young that are trying to educate themselves and letting the criminals run free in the streets....

    nope don't see a problem with that....

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
    • JD says:

      Sorry exactly how is the Minister of Education "letting the criminals run free in the streets"

      Like(0)
      Dislike(0)
      • Kim K. says:

        Criminals get all sorts of freebies. Legal, dental, health, rent, ferry and bus passes just to name a few.

        Like(0)
        Dislike(0)
    • Clive Spate says:

      Tuition in UK is capped at approx $15k.

      I don't see any problem with limiting these scholarships at $35k.

      If you cannot budget and live on $20k as a student you probably are not bright enough to be awarded a scholarship!!

      It would be interesting to find out how much the UK Government gives out in scholarships.

      Like(0)
      Dislike(0)
  3. Vote for Me says:

    Wow,
    In the overall scheme of things, I do not think amyone can complain (except the potential student that now needs to borrow the balance).

    I never heard of anyone getting a single $75k scholarship!!

    Can anyone shed some light?

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
    • Um Um Like says:

      I think it was part of the "friends & family" educational plan.

      Like(0)
      Dislike(0)
    • Huh? says:

      scholarship covers tuition plus room and board. so whatever the tuition at your school was they agreed to pay. quite easy to get a 75k annual cost at some of those US colleges.

      Like(0)
      Dislike(0)
      • pwndwg says:

        If an underprivileged BDA applicant to an Ivy or equivalent can get SAT scores in the high 600s to low 700s and has a commitment to education (i.e. less than a white middle class American would need to get), he/she can almost certainly get: (1) accepted (2) offered a scholarship/bursary from the school (3) offered a scholarship/bursary from a BDA foundation (4) offered a scholarship/bursary from a BDA corporate (5) offered a scholarship bursary from the BDA Govt (6) a job in BDA to help with the costs

        Like(0)
        Dislike(0)
  4. jt says:

    $75k per year is ridiculous.

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
  5. pwndwg says:

    A $35,000 cap make a lot of sense. There are dozens of top universities in the US, Canada and the UK which cost far less (and I'm not talking about diploma mills and sketchy bible colleges). How many disadvantaged Bermudian students can't get additional scholarships from universities and the Bda private sector? It's the middle class Bermudian kid who can't afford Princeton or Yale who's going to have a problem. But UNC, UCLA, UVA, UoT, McGill, London, Bristol and Durham are pretty amazing value for money as Ivy league alternatives.

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
    • Huh? says:

      There are not dozens of top college in the US that cost "far less" than 35k a year for international students. I suggest you do some research.

      Like(0)
      Dislike(0)
      • pwndwg says:

        Try UNC, most if not all of the UCs, UMass, UofTexas etc. Tuition for non-residents such as BDA students is in the teens to twenties, some in low 30s. Food and housing are additional but the costs are much less than they would be in BDA. Canada and the UK much cheaper. Bermudians don't always have to choose Cristall, LV and sit at the front of the plane, when there are much more affordable and often superior alternatives. We need to start realizing that we aren't some kind of chosen people who automatically get everything on a silver platter. We need to work, build relationships, save and invest.

        Like(0)
        Dislike(0)
  6. A>B>C says:

    @ huh and ur point is ur rich folks pay top dollars and u here moanin lmao

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
  7. John says:

    We pay over 50000 a year to house and feed one prisoner a year but can't pay the same or more for our children who are our future!? Sad

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
  8. Unjrust Realities says:

    Wow!!!! So a high school student who works hard, makes good grades and gets accepted into an Ivy League school can't go because of financial reasons . . . while we sit back and look at a very much overstaffed MOED!!!! Not to mention the outrageous salaries!!!!

    How ironic is that????????

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)
    • Moojun says:

      No, not at all. They just have to go to a reasonably priced British or Canadian university where $35k easily gets you a fantastic degree in the subject you applied for, instead of being wasted on massive sports stadia, heavily armed campus security police and NFL scholarships.

      Look it's a shame that we can't give cash to deserving students anymore, but the bottom line is Bermuda is now broke... we have no money. It was spent. Gone. We are in debt, and running a deficit. The party, in short, is over.

      Like(0)
      Dislike(0)

Leave a Reply