The University of Hawaiʻi wants to provide free community college for all students with financial needs through a scholarship program called Hawaiʻi Promise. The university is working with state leaders to secure the $2.5 million in funding needed to implement the pilot program that would impact an estimated thousand students.
The goal of Hawaiʻi Promise is to remove cost as a barrier to higher education, clearing the path for community college students to complete their education without taking out student loans.
“The best way to lift people out of poverty is to address educational inequality and provide access to higher education; Hawaiʻi Promise does exactly that,” said UH Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton. “The university is responsible for preparing Hawaiʻi’s citizens for the modern workforce by ensuring access to quality higher education and the many benefits that come from it.”
Hawaiʻi Promise is a “last dollar” scholarship that would provide any financial needs not met by other forms of financial aid, such as federal grants and benefits and scholarships from UH, employers and other private sources. The program would cover tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation.
“We already have financial aid from the federal government, the university itself, private donors and through the UH Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and employers, but there’s still a gap that prevents many from pursuing their higher education,” said Morton. “This program will completely close that gap.”
If the program becomes a reality, eligible students will have to qualify for Hawaiʻi resident tuition and be enrolled in a degree or certificate program at a UH community college for at least six credits per semester. Students will also need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine their unmet need and maintain standards of academic progress as defined by the Federal Title IV programs.
The university hopes that with the success of the program in the community colleges, it can expand Hawaiʻi Promise to undergraduate students at all ten campuses.
Read more about the Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship program (PDF).