admin's picture

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 29, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---The CNMI government's decision to stop giving financial grants to part-time post-secondary students is beginning to be reflected in enrollment figures at the Northern Marianas College, which dropped by over 50 percent in the last school year.

The dramatic decline in the number of part-time students who registered in college courses from school years 1997 through 1999 may see NMC losing almost half of its student enrollment in the coming school, Development and Alumni Relations Director Tony V. Deleon Guerrero said yesterday.

At least 1,022 of the total 1,884-student population at the college in SY-97 to SY-98 are classified as part-time students. The following year, total student enrollment dropped to 1,607. Only 500 part-time students registered during this period.

Mr. Deleon Guerrero attributes this drastic decline in enrollment figures to a reduction in financial grants, which the CNMI Scholarship Office ceased to offer for part-time college students since last year.

Without the financial assistance, non-traditional students experienced a hard time coping with both job obligations and school.

"Right now, this is our biggest worry. We are lobbying with our local leaders to please take a look at these figures and discuss it with the Scholarship Office.

"We need to make higher education accessible by assisting all students, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time," said Mr. Deleon Guerrero.

He also sympathized with the significant number of non-traditional students who are facing difficulty joggling between jobs, family obligations, and pursuing post-secondary education.

"These are working people. A lot of them are single parents, or parents who have full-time jobs, and the only way that they can obtain their post secondary education is through part-time status. Denying them any financial assistance is really hurting a critical group of students here at the college," he added.

Mr. Guerrero has even proposed the possibility that a portion of education costs of part-time students be subsidized as opposed to some students who are given full scholarships.

"We're begging the Legislature to please help us and seek a compromise with the Scholarship Office. We should make it proportionate that maybe not everybody can get 100 percent assistance, but whatever the number is, provide some type of assistance to part-time students. This way, the pie is evenly distributed," he said.

He continued by saying that the revival of financial assistance programs for part-time students could lessen threats of dismal enrollment projections in the next school year.

"When school opens in August and these people apply again and get turned down, it's going to hurt our enrollment here at the college," said Mr. Guerrero.

He reiterated it would be unfair to deny local part time students scholarship incentives as they also contribute to the growth of the CNMI economy.

"They pay taxes, they contribute to the CNMI economy and to deny them any assistance is not fair. Our legislators must recognize this," he said.

NMC has recorded an average enrollment of 49.4 percent of part-time students within the last five years.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment