Student with counselor looking at a laptop

Molokaʻi High School had the highest percentage of seniors completing the FAFSA among all participating schools in the last Cash for College challenge.

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education is partnering with Hawaiʻi P–20 and the University of Hawaiʻi to promote a campaign to help make college more affordable for students. The Cash for College Challenge encourages high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

More Hawaiʻi public high schools are participating in this year’s Cash for College Challenge, the FAFSA helps students identify available financial aid. The application is required when applying for federal student grants, work-study, loans and scholarships, including those offered by the state, schools and private organizations.

“Each year, millions of free federal grants dollars are left unclaimed in Hawaiʻi,” said Hawaiʻi P–20 Executive Director Stephen Schatz. “This aid could have helped more of our Hawaiʻi students attend college. We need to do everything we can to help make college more affordable for students and families.”

The UH Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship, which provides free in-state tuition dollars to fill the financial gap for qualified UH community college students with financial need, requires completion of FAFSA. Last year, this scholarship awarded over $1.7 million to approximately 1,500 UH community college students to help make college more affordable.

Schools with the highest FAFSA completion rates and largest increase in FAFSA completions over the previous year will be awarded cash prizes for their senior class to support high school graduation, prom and other end-of-year activities.

“We know that FAFSA completion rates translate to increased college enrollment, yet too many of our students are not taking advantage of this valuable resource. We want to ensure that every high school senior completes a FAFSA,” said Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “We’ve set a goal to increase our statewide FAFSA completion rate to 70 percent and have raised that outcome goal to 90 percent for 2020—a challenging goal, but not an impossible one. Some of our high schools are already well on their way to meeting or exceeding these targets and we are confident we can get there as a statewide system.”

To read the full story see the news release.

More about the Cash for College Challenge