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NMC Awarded $330K to Enhance College Access and Success (Septemeber 18, 2008)

The Northern Marianas College was recently awarded $330,000 to fund efforts aimed at heightening college enrollment and retention among the CNMI’s public high school graduates.

The funds are part of the College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP), a formula grant program that was created by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act which was signed into law by President George Bush in 2007.

According to the grant proposal prepared and submitted by the College, an average of 600 students graduate from public high schools each year. However, only 25 percent of that number enroll in post-secondary institutions, which is lower than the national average of 63 percent. Further, the proposal indicates that close to half of those who have enrolled at the Northern Marianas College drop out or discontinue their coursework because of academic and/or financial challenges.

To increase the number of students””especially native Pacific Islanders with low-income backgrounds””who are prepared to enter and succeed at NMC or any other post-secondary institution, the College plans to launch a number of initiatives that expand existing student services. For instance, the grant will enable the College to hire two additional counselors to enhance the services provided by NMC’s Counseling Programs and Services Office.

Direct financial aid will also made available in the form of 30 need-based grants to qualified students during the first year. The financial assistance will be complemented by academic support through the provision of tutorial services in English, math, and science to CACGP-eligible students since the grant will allow for the hiring of 10 tutors.

Other activities planned include college information sessions and college/career fairs that provide students and their families more information about the benefits of going to college, college opportunities, college financing, and career preparation. The College will also organize and host several professional development workshops and seminars for high school guidance counselors, admissions staff, and financial aid employees.

“Expanding educational opportunities for CNMI students has always been one of my priority initiatives,”ť said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “To a great extent, the grant allows us do this by handing the College a central role in helping our high school students enroll in higher education institutions.”ť

“To carry out the planned activities, the College will explore and forge partnerships with other public agencies and private companies, whose participation will help ensure that more students enroll and succeed in college,”ť said Daisy Villagomez-Bier, NMC Dean of Student Services.

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