It’s never easy to choose what college to go to after graduation, which is why the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance encourages its recent recipients to enroll at the Northern Marianas College for their first two years.
SHEFA Policy and Procedures Committee chair Kaelani Demapan said her previous conversations with recipients are centered on them starting their first two years in college at NMC after high school graduation because the credits from NMC are transferable to other colleges off-island, meaning students can transfer their credits to a four-year university off-island.
Demapan understands that this might be limiting for some college students; however, it can help students with their transition to a university setting and essentially open up more doors to more scholarship programs.
Some of the perks of starting at NMC is that students save more by not paying higher tuition, dorm fees, and other expenses, Demapan said.
Additionally, this is a goal of NMC’s Start Smart. In this annual event, NMC’s students or alumni offer advice like different college options, financial aid opportunities, and ways to explore their college experience, for students who are about to graduate high school.
Since NMC and other Saipan-based institutions don’t provide some programs, Demapan says that they are working on being flexible to provide “exemptions” to the rule that requires SHEFA scholars to return and work in the CNMI after graduating from college. Demapan added that there are a vast number of students going to colleges/universities around the world who don’t return to the CNMI after they graduate. The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the possibilities for these students to return, which is something that the committee understands, Demapan said.
So far, SHEFA has approved 653 applications for fall 2020, according to a report submitted by administrator Merissa Rasa. Of the 653 recipients, 562 are on-island students, 281 are off-island, and 84 are enrolled online.