Only 10 Percent of Micronesian College Students Graduate

A mere 10 percent of Micronesians who enroll in the nation's community college system actually graduate.

The figure was released in the "IPEDS Data Feedback Report," complied by the College of Micronesia (COM) for the United States based National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). It measures the number of full-time, first-time, degree seeking undergraduates who obtain a degree within 150% of the time normally required. It also accounts for students who transferred out to other schools, usually in Guam and Hawaii, in order to continue their studies elsewhere.

More troubling, additional figures from NCES indicate a massive disparity in graduation rates along gender lines. Female students (comprising 53% of the COM student body) have a 15 percent graduate rate while their male peers (47% of students) graduate at a rate of just 4 percent.

The College of Micronesia has a national campus on the island of Pohnpei and state campuses in Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap. It offers 2-year degrees as well as 4-year certificates and has an open admissions policy.

In 2008, there were 2,457 students enrolled in the COM system. Just over 2,000 of those students (or 83%) received tuition assistance from the United States government in the form of Pell Grants, totaling $4,050,092 in US aid.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an island nation in the central Pacific with close historical and economic ties to the United States. The FSM was established in 1979 after five decades of direct US-control through a region-wide United Nation overseen Trust Territory.

In 1983, the US and FSM governments entered into a status of Free Association. The ongoing agreement provides Micronesia with significant financial assistance in exchange for US defense rights in the region. It also allows for open and reciprocal travel rights for both countries' citizens, as well as access for Micronesian nationals to US social services and entitlements.

The majority of FSM K-12 and Higher Educational funding is provided by the United States through this Compact.

Read more about the COM college system here and the public K-12 school system here.

Habele is an all-volunteer nonprofit working to expand educational access and accomplishment in Micronesia's remote Outer Islands. Habele awards K-12 scholarships to low-income students attending prestigious private schools in order to improve their chances of entering into, and succeeding at, higher education.