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CNMI Now a Member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) (November 29, 2012)

The Northern Marianas College today announced that the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) voted to accept the Pacific Islands U.S. Territories and Free-Standing States into WICHE membership. The CNMI was voted on as the first to be granted membership.

Among other benefits, membership in WICHE will allow CNMI students to be eligible for reduced tuition rates at 2- and 4- year public post-secondary institutions in 15 western states (at 150 percent of the resident tuition of that institution).

For graduate students (those pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree), WICHE’s “Western Regional Graduate Program” enables students from the 15 western states to enroll in more than 250 graduate programs and pay the resident tuition rate, instead of the nonresident rate that an out-of-state student would normally pay.

What is WICHE?

WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) is a regional, nonprofit organization that has 15 (now 16) member states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai'I, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

WICHE and its 15 member states work to improve access to higher education and ensure student success. Our student exchange programs, regional initiatives, and our research and policy work allow us to assist constituents throughout the West and beyond.

How does WICHE differ from other policy organizations?

WICHE is the only organization in the West that focuses exclusively on higher education issues, from access and accountability to tuition and fees to distance learning and innovation, providing hard data on the trends as well as analysis.

In the West, public higher education is the primary backbone of the economy, and WICHE’s policy research and collaborative programs work toward the goal of supporting the West’s citizens and its constantly evolving cultures.

What student programs does WICHE offer?

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)

In WICHE’s Western Undergraduate Exchange, students pay 150 percent of the receiving school’s resident tuition, substantially less than standard nonresident tuition. 24,670 students enrolled in 2009-10, saving some $173 million in tuition. Through our Professional Student Exchange Program, 13,712 professionals, most in healthcare, have received home-state support when enrolled in programs in another Western state; the majority of them remain in the region to practice their careers. In 2009-10 698 students enrolled in the program, which now offers 10 fields of professional education.

Western Regional Graduate Program

The Western Regional Graduate Program is a tuition-reciprocity arrangement similar to the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) and it is coordinated by WICHE. WRGP enables students from WICHE states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming) to enroll in some 250 participating graduate programs and pay the enrolling institution’s resident tuition rate, instead of the nonresident rate that an out-of-state student would normally pay. WRGP is a tremendous opportunity for Western states to share distinctive programs (and the faculty who teach them) and build their workforce in a variety of disciplines, particularly healthcare. WRGP is not for short term exchange””it is meant to be used for a full graduate degree or graduate certificate.

WRGP is program-based; only certain programs at our participating institutions are eligible to enroll residents of WICHE states at the WRGP rate. They must be approved by a formal nominations process.

Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP)

Healthcare workforce needs are at an all-time high, regionally and nationally. State policymakers are looking for the smartest investment of limited tax dollars, and sharing educational resources within the West is a fiscally responsible approach. Given fiscal pressures and other factors, it doesn’t always make sense for a state to create its own program in certain healthcare professions.

Years ago, our Western states formed the Western Regional Education Compact and agreed to share higher education resources in the region through WICHE.

WICHE states that use PSEP have discovered they get an excellent return on investment when they appropriate funds to educate students at other institutions within the 15-state WICHE region. Those funds are administered through WICHE’s PSEP and are sent to the enrolling institutions. The student’s home state pays a “support fee” for the student’s seat; this fee is negotiated between WICHE and the cooperating programs.

If your state is a member of WICHE and does not offer a healthcare education program at an in-state public institution, there’s a good chance that your state can help you through WICHE’s PSEP. Your state may also provide support through PSEP in a healthcare field that is only offered at a private institution located within the state.

For more information about WICHE, please visit its website at

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