NMC looks to ‘Guam model’ to finance facility upgrades
The Northern Marianas College hopes to have a “campus renaissance” soon, with a plan to initiate by the end of the next calendar year a facility financing scheme based on the “Guam model.”
Regent William Torres, who chairs the fiscal committee on facilities, said that U.S. Department of Agriculture area director Joseph Diego assured him in a meeting last week that NMC would receive “due priority and commitment” for facility financing from USDA.
Torres said he also met with the University of Guam Board of Regents and the planning and facility manager of the Guam Community College.
Both the UOG and GCC have availed of the Community Facilities Direct and Guaranteed Loan program under the USDA’s Rural Development program. UOG has borrowed $13.5 million over 40 years at 4.5 percent interest, and GCC has borrowed $3.5 million.
UOG services this debt through a combination of commitment from the Guam Legislature for an annual appropriation of $500,000 per year for the life of the loan, $200,000 from the UOG Endowment Foundation, and $50,000 from internal revenue sources.
GCC services its loan through revenues from tuition and fees.
With this in mind, Torres said he has met with Vicki Villagomez from the CNMI Capital Improvement Projects office, and expressed the need for executive commitment in the form $1 million to $2 million in CIP money to the college for the next 10 or 15 years.
This, Torres said, will give the college greater leverage when it comes to debt service with USDA as it has a guarantee from the CNMI government in place.
The college has not undergone major reconstruction since it was built on or about 1955 as a single storey, semi-concrete hospital.
Under the leadership of his committee, Torres hopes to “learn from failures” in the past and provide the guidance necessary in providing students with the facilities they deserve.
Torres hopes that 80 percent of the CNMI’s high school graduates will choose to “complete two-year degree at home” because there will be facilities and programs in place to make it a more viable and cheaper option.
“We owe it to our students to modernize the campus,” he said.
He added that the college’s accrediting commission also expects them to pursue upgrades in facilities.