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Thursday, April 24, 2014

NMC eyes incentives for ‘full time’ students

Students at Northern Marianas College who enroll in 15 or more credits in the fall semester may be granted incentives as a way to encourage more enrollees to become “full time” students.

Barbara Merfalen, dean of Academic Programs and Services, disclosed to Saipan Tribune yesterday that NMC is looking for ways that will encourage students to take the new full-time credit requirement—enrolling in at least 15 credits per semester—to improve their chances of completing their degree programs.

To do this, she said the college will look at different ways to provide incentives, including financial benefits.

At NMC, a student carrying 12 or more credits in the fall or spring semester is considered a “full time student.”

NMC is also reviewing the number of credits that are required to complete a degree program at NMC and will be recommending adjustments where they are appropriate, Merfalen said.

She disclosed that NMC has set up an ad hoc committee to review and evaluate NMC’s tuition and fees to explore the possibility of a banded tuition structure. A banded tuition structure involves a set price for students enrolling for classes within an identified range of credits.

“We are also looking at ways to reduce the number of students who place in remedial levels of math and English,” added Merfalen.

The college’s data show that, similar to trends occurring at community colleges in the nation, many students do not graduate on time. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 1 in 10 students complete their two-year degrees within two years.

According to Merfalen, there are drawbacks to students extending the time they take to earn their degrees.

“First, it is more costly. According to the College Board, an extra semester of college costs about $1,500 for the typical two-year college student,” said Merfalen.

Secondly, as students progress along their education journey, other factors come up that may affect their studies the longer they are in school. These include, but are not limited to, new careers, family obligations, and financial commitments.

The dean said that NMC’s work in helping students accelerate the time it takes to earn their degree is part of the institution’s commitment to the challenge posed by “Complete College America,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees.

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