By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) The University of Guam has been raising student tuition for years while failing to collect on millions in student loans. The audited financials for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 report that the Financial Aid division of the university has hemorrhaged $18 million in student loans owed to UOG.
The Financial Aid office collected less than three percent, or $500,000, of the amount owed during those two years, making its collection rate even worse than Guam Memorial Hospital's.
Director of Financial Aid Mark Duarte receives a base salary of nearly $70,000 a year, while UOG's president, Dr. Thomas Krise, earns an annual base salary of $210,000. The UOG Board of Regents, which governs the university's policies and selects and monitors its president, is filled with local businessmen. Mr. Duarte has a full staff at his disposal, not including the entire Administration and Finance department of UOG, led by a vice president, Randall Wiegand, and staffed by scores of employees.
Mr. Wiegand earns a base annual salary of $129,540.
While patient receivables at GMH amounts to only a portion of its annual operating budget, the amount of outstanding student loans to the university is greater than half its appropriation for an entire year, making it the most financially-dependent of all the so-called autonomous agencies and, by far, the most financially insolvent without local subsidies.
In sum, UOG would cease to exist without about $30 million in annual appropriations from taxpayers. The constant increases in tuition are less a reflection of growing academic and research production quality and more an image of operational incompetence that never is placed under legislative or public auditor scrutiny.
Despite the university's failure to collect on its massive receivables, its management has continuously asked the Board of Regents to increase tuition on students, punishing those who pay tuition while holding itself free of accountability for the financial mess that drives UOG to raise tuition in the first place.
Meanwhile, the university spends top dollar to fund its excesses, easily outpacing any other government of Guam agency except GMH on the average pay of its employees. The taxpayers and its students foot the bill, which makes it all the more difficult to accept its push to raise tuition by 10 percent each year for the next three years.