NMC budget compares poorly to institutions in region, elsewhere


Local appropriations for the Northern Marianas College compare poorly with other higher education institutions in the region.

According to data made available by the college for fiscal year 2012, the percentage of the college’s total institutional budget funded by appropriations were at 20 percent.

In that same period, Palau Community College had 23 percent, the College of the Marshall Islands had 26 percent, the University of Hawaii Community College had 37 percent, and Guam Community College had 38 percent of its budget funded by appropriations by its state or local governments.

NMC’s 20 percent is half the U.S average for appropriated budget, which was at 40 percent.

Among other peer institutions like Northern New Mexico College, Great Basin College, Chipola College, as well as GCC, NMC had the largest amount of its budget provided for by federal grants, at 66 percent.

The data was presented to the Senate by NMC president Dr. Sharon Hart and other college officials this week as a part of a “major plea,” according to Hart, to the Legislature to meet the college’s needs.

“We’re going to have to pay more now to support NMC than any of our student counterparts across the Pacific. Our own local government is assuming less of that responsibility,” Hart said in an interview this week.

Saipan Tribune reported earlier of Hart’s threat to halt the college’s new bachelor’s degree in business management as well as tuition hike by 30 percent if the Legislature fails to provide for its maintenance of effort needs.

Also, data was reported to show how direct appropriations for the college have been on the decline since 2009.

Riggz Awit, a second year student who intends to eventually major in business management, hopes the new program isn’t scrapped due to budget reasons.

“I really want to go through [with] this,” he said.

He understands, though, that “money is literally everything,” and that if the degree is halted he will have to change his plans.

“If not, I’ll go for my AA [in business], then go to Guam,” Awit said.

Another student, Kevin Fejeran, a second year student in computer applications, has plans to get his associate degree at the college and then transfer to Guam for his bachelor’s.

However, he said a 30-percent hike in tuition will hurt him because he solely pays for his tuition with scholarships and aid, and along with the cost in books, if scholarships don’t cover a higher tuition, then students may not attend the college or it would take them much longer to graduate.

“It doesn’t look like education is in the priority right now, especially with the funding,” Fejeran said, on the local government’s proposed budget and the decline in direct appropriations.

Fejeran said he would like to return to the islands to work, and would love to see the college expand its programs if it could receive more funding.

One thing he’d like to see, he said, was a culinary arts program, and more funding for computers, as well as classrooms so that more students can be accommodated.

According to him, all six of the available classes for the math course he wanted to take were closed.

“I need a math class and everything is full,” he said.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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