Native Hawaiian students and their parents are turning up in droves to hear about financial aid opportunities for college.
The Native Hawaiian Scholarship ʻAha workshops are drawing record-breaking numbers. In this first week, throngs of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students crowded the Campus Center in their quest for scholarships and financial aid. On the Big Island, the Kona and Waimea workshops were packed, and in Hilo it was standing room only with 350 people in attendance— three times the number of people who attended last year.
Sponsors said the overwhelming response is a clear demonstration of the need for financial support for Native Hawaiian students.
“Aha’s providing the venue so that the students and their parents are able to have easy access to the information,” said Kuʻumeaaloha Gomes, director of Kuaʻana Students Services at UH Mānoa.
The effort is part of a statewide initiative to bring Native Hawaiian scholarship opportunities. Scholarship and financial aid providers are on hand to provide information on financial aid and other resources available to Native Hawaiian students.
“There is so much more money out there than we even know about. They even gave me websites beyond what’s in here for me to look at. And they’ve made the process of applying even easier,” said parent Sandi Bridges.
“They are just giving me basic information on what I need and the qualifications of each scholarship, so it looks like a really good opportunity,” said Angel Permito-Kaheaku, UH Mānoa student.
Students said they appreciate the convenience because online searching isn’t always easy.
“There’s a difference between going online for Native Hawaiians and having face-to-face contact. And when they have face-to face-contact and they meet the people and they ask the questions, they get really excited and really motivated,” Gomes said.
The workshops are free and open to the public through January. For more information, go to ʻAha website.