U.S. Department of Interior Grant Renewed to Cover Membership Fees for U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States
BOULDER, Colorado – The Republic of Palau has joined the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which will expand student access to tuition savings, workforce development, and behavioral health programs in the Micronesia region of the western Pacific Ocean.
As a sovereign nation in free association with the United States, Palau will share the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States membership at WICHE with four other members – the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia effective June 5. WICHE’s Pacific Islands membership is open to all the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States after they pass the necessary legislation.
“We want to prepare our students to learn and to lead successful lives, so that they can return to Palau to give back to their communities. Being a WICHE member will help in pursuit of that goal,” said Palau Minister of Education Dale Jenkins, PhD.
WICHE’s growing partnership in the region is thanks in part to substantial collaboration, as well as a grant from the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, which was renewed for a second consecutive year to cover the fiscal year membership dues.
“On behalf of the WICHE Commission, we are grateful for the generous federal grant that helped pave the way for our Pacific Islands members to join WICHE as they bring valuable perspectives and input,” said WICHE President Demarée K. Michelau.
WICHE’s member states, territories, and freely associated states can participate in its 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 2021-22 academic year, Guam residents saved $1.3 million; Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands residents saved $1.7 million; Federated States of Micronesia residents saved $31,446; and Republic of the Marshall Islands residents saved $19,257, respectively, through WICHE’s tuition savings programs.
WICHE members also benefit from other WICHE programs, including policy and research initiatives, institutional collaborations, workforce development, behavioral health training and assistance, and technology initiatives.
“I look forward to the valuable contributions our partners in Palau will bring,” said David Lassner, WICHE Commission chair and University of Hawai’i president. “As we continue to connect the Pacific with the rest of the West, we remain committed to sharing ideas and collaborating on ways to increase access to, and the positive impacts of, higher education for all students and communities across our expansive region.”
Since 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has been strengthening higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the region. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states get the most from their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. WICHE members include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States. Visit wiche.edu.