The UH Systemwide Survey on Financial Assistance was administered to first-time, full-time freshmen who enrolled at a UH campus in fall 2009. A total of 6,435 surveys were sent electronically, and 988 responses were received for a response rate of 15.4 percent. The first section of the survey asked respondents for demographic information. The second section asked respondents to rate a series of statements related to financial assistance. Their choices ranged from Strongly Agree, Agree, and Somewhat Agree to Somewhat Disagree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. The third and final section asked students to select the top three reasons why they did or did not apply for financial assistance.
Respondents tended to be female, age 19 and under, and of Native Hawaiian, Caucasian, Filipino, or Mixed ethnicity. Other demographics indicated respondents were generally first-time, degree-seeking students and Hawaii residents who paid in-state tuition and were financially independent of their parents/guardians. Roughly half are first generation college students on either side of the family who attended a Hawaii public high school. About 25 percent participated in a college access program that helped them learn about college. Most work or planned to work part-time; those with on-campus employment tended to work or planned to work fewer hours than those who worked off-campus and those who worked both on- and off-campus. The majority of survey respondents applied for financial assistance. Those who received aid indicated it was a significant factor in their decision to attend their UH campus.
Opinions on Financial Assistance
Most respondents felt financial aid is available to those who need it and that information on the topic is readily available. They agree that financial aid makes a significant difference in what a student pays for college.
They shared mixed opinions that receiving aid means accepting too many loans and requires a high GPA or standardized test scores. More believe than disbelieve that they are eligible for financial assistance, and the vast majority do not find being an aid recipient embarrassing. Most also find the financial aid application (FAFSA) worthwhile to complete.
Respondents considered the cost of attending their UH campus high. Likewise, many indicated their campus' tuition and fees were not affordable without additional aid. Most felt the financial aid deadlines were reasonable and that there was adequate help from adults (parents, counselors, teachers, and others) to apply for aid. Some noted the timing of the financial aid notification was a potential deterrent for students to attend college.
Top Reasons Why Students Did Not Apply for Financial Assistance
The primary reasons students did not apply for aid were they did not believe they were eligible and they did not have adequate information on the topic. Some felt they could afford to pay their tuition and fees. Others found the FAFSA too difficult to complete. Too early application deadlines and too late notifications were also mentioned.
Top Reasons Why Students Applied for Financial Assistance
Many respondents indicated they would not have been able to attend UH without financial assistance. They also believed they were eligible for aid and felt the FAFSA was worthwhile to complete. Many indicated the recent economic downturn affected their and their families' financial situation. Finally, students did not feel there was any stigma or embarrassment associated with being a financial aid recipient.
As expected, a large share of respondants had applied for financial assistance. The level of support and access to information about the aid process appears to be adequate for the larger majority. However, the responses of those who did not apply for aid suggest further outreach efforts and dissemination of information may be needed.