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More Residents Avail of WICHE Programs   (May 31, 2014)

The Northern Marianas College today issued a statement to clarify an article that was printed in the Saipan Tribune on March 25, 2014, that stated that only two students from the CNMI had “availed of the WICHE” program.

WICHE stands for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and the CNMI’s membership in the organization allows CNMI residents to be eligible for discounted tuition rates at various public colleges and universities in the western U.S.

According to Leo Pangelinan, Dean of Student Services at Northern Marianas College, although the precise numbers are not known yet because the program is relatively new, more students are already taking advantage of the discounted tuition rates afforded by CNMI’s membership in WICHE.

“We already have some preliminary numbers, and based on what’s been reported to the College, students are already making their limited dollars go further because of the discounts they are receiving or will be receiving through WICHE,” said Dean Leo Pangelinan.

According to Rose Pangelinan, Administrator of the CNMI Scholarship Office, her office is aware of at least 42 students who are currently enrolled at schools that provide the WICHE discount for SY13-14.

“We already know of some students and their families who are each saving about $8,00 annually,” said Leo Pangelinan. “If we apply this amount to those 40 or so students and their families who are receiving the CNMI Scholarship, the savings can be up to $320,000.”

Of course, the savings vary depending on the institutions and universities where the  students are taking classes, Leo Pangelinan added.

Dean Leo Pangelinan also stated that there may be a number of students who are not receiving CNMI scholarship funds but taking advantage of the WICHE discounts either under the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program or other WICHE programs. The WUE program allows residents from the CNMI to be eligible to pay no more than 150% of the resident tuition at participating two and four-year colleges and universities.

The savings can be quite considerable. Through the WUE program, for example, CNMI residents are now eligible for consideration to pay the WUE rate of $7,695 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV) instead of the nonresident tuition of $19,040, a savings of about $11,000 per year.

According to WICHE representatives, the average WUE student saved $7,800 (average for two- and four-year institutions).

Additionally, Leo Pangelinan emphasized that there are current high school seniors who have already been accepted into colleges and universities in the western U.S. and who have already been notified that they qualify for the WICHE discounted rate.

“My daughter was recently accepted to Southern Utah University and was informed that she qualifies for the WICHE rate, which means our family will be saving thousands of dollars,” said Becky Sablan, parent of a Marianas High School Senior. “The savings will be very helpful.”

Leo Pangelinan also stated that the Northern Marianas College is engaged in conducting outreach workshops and other activities to promote the WICHE program. He said that hundreds of students have shown interest in taking advantage of the tuition discount programs under WICHE.

For more information, please visit or visit the WICHE website at

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