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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Regents raise concern over NMC plan to reclassify alien students’ residency

Board of Regents members initially objected to a proposed reclassification of international students at the Northern Marianas College, saying the move would result in a drop in the college’s revenue.

Board Policy No. 4001, which deals with the residency classification of students, has been on the board’s table for quite some time now. This proposed policy recommends that NMC’s international students be allowed to pay a tuition rate similar to that paid by resident students.

NMC’s longstanding policy requires international enrollees to pay a tuition rate of $190 per credit—almost double the amount assessed resident students, which is $95 per credit.

Student Services dean Leo Pangelinan disclosed that under the existing policy, international students must enroll for three consecutive years before they are assessed the resident tuition rate.

At present, the college has 39 international students from Korea, Japan, China, and the Philippines.

Based on the board’s initial calculation, NMC stands to lose $44,000-plus if all 39 international students begin to pay the resident tuition rate.

NMC president Dr. Sharon Y. Hart pointed out, however, that the projected loss is considered “minimal” compared to the benefits that the college would gain if NMC is able to keep all this 39 students in its fold.

She said the projected $44,000 potential loss may also be a higher projection, considering that not all 39 students now pay the $190 per credit charge. Some of them, she said, are already on their third year and are assessed the lower tuition.

“So in my opinion, the amount is really minimal,” said Hart.

During Friday’s board meeting, Pangelinan said the policy change aims to improve the college’s retention rates. He believes that NMC will benefit more from this proposed policy because it would attract more international students, besides being able to keep what it has.

According to board fiscal committee chair William Torres, the proposed policy should be put on hold until all pertinent data the committee asked from the management is received and reviewed.

“I would like to reiterate the feelings of the members. We’re concerned on what really is the fiscal impact of this proposed policy. Should this recommendation move forward, I know that immediate impact is reduction in the college revenue but at the same time it will stabilize and impact the retention rates. Now, I don’t know whether that is enough to offset the reduction in potential revenues,” said Torres, adding that the board has to be data-informed before a decision is made on the subject.

NMC board chair Frank Rabauliman admitted that the residency classification proposal has been going back and forth between the committee and the management for more than a year now. The lack of data to justify the proposal, he said, has always been the concern of board members.

“I am afraid we never moved forward with this issue because there was no fiscal impact report that has been provided to the panel,” he said.

He asked the NMC president to come up with the data at the next board meeting.

Hart assured the board that more data would be turned in next month.

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