By extending the deadline for monthly scholarship nominations, the National Scholarship Fund (FONABE) managed to approve recipients for 90% of its available public-school scholarships – a massive improvement over the situation two weeks ago, when only 45,000 nominations for the 140,939 available grants had been submitted (TT, Feb. 17).
Rocío Solís, president of the fund’s board of directors, told The Tico Times this week she expects 100% of the scholarships to be assigned to students in time for the March payment. However, since February’s payment cannot be made retroactively, the 10% of unassigned scholarships – most of which range from $12-20 – have gone to waste, despite the fact that the fund changed the deadline from Feb. 24 to March 3.
“I’m dismayed,” she said, referring to the apparent slowness of schools’ nominating committees to submit students’ names to FONABE, despite the fact that school personnel were aware of the requirements for nominations since October. “How can a school reject a scholarship?”
She reiterated earlier comments that FONABE is working on changes to the scholarship nomination process, including an earlier deadline to prevent students from losing their first payment of the year.
The bulk of the grants consists of monthly payments of ¢6,000 ($12) per month for elementary school and ¢9,000 ($18) for high school, with larger grants for children who work on the street, pregnant teenagers, students with disabilities, and university students with limited resources.
FONABE also provides one-time payments of ¢13,000 ($26), known as bonos, to cover costs such as the purchase of uniforms or school supplies. Solís said approximately 75% of these have been granted, but that the timeliness of bonos is not as crucial since those payments can be made at any time during the year.