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Students from Palau receive WICHE benefits

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AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File
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The Palau Capital building in Melekeok, Palau.

The Republic of Palau has joined the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. This means students from Palau can attend one of three University of Hawaiʻi campuses for reduced tuition.

Students living in select Western U.S. states and Pacific Islands are eligible for discounted tuition when applying to a UH university.

Palau joins the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia in WICHE’s Pacific Islands membership.

Joining the membership means students from Palau can attend over 100 participating universities for 150% of in-state tuition — including three University of Hawaiʻi campuses.

However, Palau residents have been attending UH for 150% of in-state tuition for over a decade. UH tuition policy states students from a Pacific Island with no public higher education institution or their desired program in their nation can attend UH campuses for 150% of in-state tuition.

Margo Colalancia, director of student access programs at WICHE, provided an explanation using UH Mānoa as an example.

"Off of this closing academic year's tuition rates, they would pay about $17,000 for tuition plus fees. And the savings estimate is actually about $16,000 because if they came in as a full nonresident, they'd pay more than $33,000," she said.

Public institutions under WICHE can offer discounted tuition to eligible students if their state government pays a $159,000 membership fee.

WICHE began as a way for students to have more access to universities with professional health care programs after World War II. The organization now serves 16 western states and five Pacific Island nations for students in all majors.

UH Mānoa had over 3,000 WICHE students in the last academic year.

Updated: July 1, 2022 at 3:06 PM HST
A previous version of this article stated that students of Palau received discounted tuition to UH since joining WICHE.
Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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