BOULDER, Colorado – American Samoa has passed the necessary legislation to officially join the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE programs allow American Samoa residents to access tuition savings at the undergraduate and graduate levels at over 160 colleges and universities across the West. WICHE also provides workforce development support, behavioral health programs, and other resources.
Celebrating its 70th year this year, WICHE is an interstate regional higher education compact that works collaboratively to expand access to higher education across the West by promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy.
The WICHE region is comprised of 15 Western states and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States. As an unincorporated territory of the United States, American Samoa joins the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau under the Pacific Island membership. With the addition of American Samoa, WICHE now reflects all eligible states, territories, and freely associated states in the West.
“When it comes to the children of American Samoa, they deserve every opportunity to succeed that we can provide. Working together with the Legislature, we were able to get this important legislation passed,” said American Samoa Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga. “We are excited to be able to work with WICHE to bring these benefits and opportunities for our families. We look forward to a successful partnership working together for our students and their families.”
States, territories, and freely associated states in the WICHE region can participate in the Student Access Programs, which allow students from those areas to enroll in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs elsewhere in the West and save on tuition costs. In the 2022-23 academic year, Guam residents saved $1.39 million; Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands residents saved $1.51 million; Federated States of Micronesia residents saved $283,376; Republic of the Marshall Islands residents saved $19,212; and Republic of Palau residents saved $18,426 through WICHE’s tuition savings programs.
“This is exciting news, not only for WICHE and the Commission, but for the students, families, and all residents in American Samoa that will now benefit from this partnership with WICHE,” said WICHE President Demarée Michelau. “Each of the Pacific jurisdictions bring unique assets and perspectives to our initiatives, and I look forward to expanding our diverse collaboration on behalf of students.”
WICHE’s growing partnership in the Pacific Islands region is thanks in part to grant funding from the U. S. Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, which covers the cost of WICHE’s annual dues for the territories and freely associated states. In addition to the tuition savings programs, all WICHE-region members benefit from additional programs, including policy and research projects, institutional collaborations, workforce development initiatives, behavioral health training and assistance, and technology initiatives.
To see a list of participating WUE schools, click here.
To see a list of participating WRGP schools, click here.