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From left: Alejandra Ramirez, Nevaeh Arruda-Kapu, Parker Coloma

In 2018–19, the Hawaiʻi Promise program supported 1,378 University of Hawaiʻi community college students who were eligible for resident tuition and had financial need. The program provides scholarships to all qualifying community college students.

The average family income of Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship recipients was $54,098 (Adjusted Gross Income), well below the state’s median income of $77,765 (2017). Nearly half of Hawaiʻi Promise recipients (46 percent) did not receive federal Pell grants, indicating that Hawaiʻi Promise supported many students in a “gap” group who had financial need but did not qualify for a Pell grant. More than half of Hawaiʻi Promise scholarships were awarded to students who are identified as underrepresented at UH: Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, American Indian or Alaskan Native, African American or Black and Hispanic. These underrepresented students, who made up 52 percent of overall UH Community Colleges enrollment in fall 2018, received 60 percent of Hawaiʻi Promise scholarships.

Hawaiʻi Promise students earned more credits and got better grades than other UH community college students. Here are what some recipients have to say about the difference the scholarship has made.

Alejandra Ramirez

Alejandra Ramirez (UH Maui College)
Hi, my name is Alejandra…. I graduated from H.P. Baldwin High School. After graduation, I decided to pursue a degree at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College. Fortunately, I qualified for the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship. The Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship helped me accomplish my goals by significantly eliminating the financial burden of receiving a higher education for me and my family. As a result, I was able to focus in school, successfully complete an internship at the County of Maui Prosecutor’s Office, and graduate with two associates degrees. I am extremely thankful for this scholarship. Without it, I would not have been able to accomplish any of my goals and grow as a student. Please make this scholarship accessible to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. This semester, I was supposed to be attending the University of West Oʻahu online. However, my plans drastically changed because I was not offered any scholarship similar to this one. I cannot afford to continue my education and take out student loans. I strongly support [legislation that] would allow students attending UH Mānoa, UH West Oʻahu or UH Hilo to receive the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship as well. [Extending Hawaiʻi Promise] would benefit the lives of many students and make the dream of attaining a bachelor’s degree a possibility.

Kortney Dacanay (Leeward CC)
I am so blessed and grateful to have received the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship. Thank you very much for the generous scholarship. The biggest regret in my life was leaving college in my first year because I needed to work. I am a mother of four, currently working two jobs. My full time job is in the sales and marketing field. I have a ton of experience, but I am not considered for great open positions because I don’t have the degree. Because of this scholarship I can finally finish something I started 20 years ago, and hopefully, find the career of my dreams. Thank you very much for this scholarship. I promise I will make the most of it, get my degree and show my kids how important education is. Mahalo Nui!

Luis B. (UH Maui College)
WoW… All I can start by saying is WoW…!!!
Mahalo Nui for awarding me the Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship…!!!
This scholarship is allowing me to go to college and start the first phase of my education. My goal is to complete my AS in Electronic & Computer Engineering Technology (ECET). Then I plan to continue and receive my bachelor’s in chemistry.
My wife and I care for our 25 year old son, who has Down-syndrome. Without this scholarship, it would make it next to impossible for me to go back to college.
I hope and pray that legislature will continue to support this program. Because with the scholarship, it truly will make dreams come true…!!!

Nevaeh Arruda-Kapu

Nevaeh Arruda-Kapu (Kauaʻi CC)
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to further my education. With your help I am working towards my Associate’s in Business and my Bachelors in Early Education/Special Education. I go to school full time and work two part time jobs. Without scholarships like this I wouldn’t be able to afford school and I wouldn’t be able to make my dreams come true and meet my goals. Financial aid can be a little frustrating for me because I just turned 19, I’ve been completely independent since I was 17 and I’m still forced to use my mother’s tax returns for FAFSA. As a result, I don’t get much from FAFSA and I rely on scholarships like this to get through the school year. Again thank you so much for this opportunity.

Sassy Keaulana (Leeward CC)
Thank you for providing me with this opportunity. Although, for some a few hundred dollars might not seem like anything at all. Let me share that this scholarship definitely helped with my college expenses. As a mother of 5, any bit helps. I am truly grateful.

“Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship. This Kanaka going getting one degree.”
—Shannon K.

Shannon K. (UH Maui College)
Dreams do come true. Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship. This Kanaka going getting one degree.

Charmaene G. (Kapiʻolani CC)
Attending college is expensive, thankful that the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship is there. I am Charmaene G. I am a freshman student at Kapiʻolani Community College and doing all the best that I can to fulfill my dreams. Before I graduate at Waipahu High School, I was thinking if I should go college or go find a job first, earn and then go back to college. During my senior year, these thoughts were stressing to my mind. I am so stressed knowing that we were just new here with my family and just starting to adopt the new environment. I have many plans that I decided such as going to the military, make a loan or be a working student. Yeah, I ended up choosing to be working students. During my senior high school, I always go to work and save all my money. During summer I worked full time at my job just to save enough money before my college year start. Eventually, I saved some money for my tuition this fall and spring. However, I forgot that books are not included in my plans and I ended up using the money I saved for my spring tuition. So, even though I have five classes in fall I still go work at least 4 days just to save money. Luckily, I got money from the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship which helped me to pay my tuition this semester and pay my books too. Without this scholarship, I think I would still have a hard time working just to buy my books that needed at my class. This program is very helpful to students. This can lessen the stress that the students are struggling just like me. All I can say is Thank you and I hope that you continue to help students who were struggling financially that wanted to be successful.

Parker Coloma

Parker Coloma (Honolulu CC)
My name is Parker Coloma and I am currently a full time student at Honolulu Community College pursuing my associates degree in the Administration of Justice Program here.

This scholarship, the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship, is helping me achieve my goals by letting me afford my schooling/education in criminal justice which I will be striving for an AA (Associate’s degree) at Honolulu Community College, and long term goal to attend UH West Oʻahu for a bachelor’s in their criminal program in order for me to become an agent in the FBI. Mahalo for everything, I truly appreciate it!


Shanlee S. (UH Maui College)
I’m currently doing my third year at the University of Hawaiʻi of Maui College. It is a privilege to be a recipient of the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship!

My parents and great people I hold cherish have told me to “Work hard in life and the things you hope for will definitely come your way.” This scholarship not only proved that my hard work paid off but knowing that I can continue my educational journey to my dream career of being a registered nurse doesn’t seem so far away. It really helps lessen my parents and myself with financial burdens since we are a big family and the cost of living in Hawaiʻi has always been expensive. Textbooks, tuition, and school supplies can finally be taken care of this semester. Even though money is a number one obstacle, I never let that negativity bring me down. I love being here in Hawaiʻi, learning at UHMC, and meeting all types of students who strive to study with their goals ahead of them makes me feel like I’m a part of something. I’m grateful to accept this scholarship as any scholarship is a blessing to a student who only wants the best in their college life.

Jordan G. (Leeward CC) My name is Jordan G… and I have been informed that I am one of the recipients of the Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship. I am grateful and honored. The award of $775 will help further my college career at Leeward Community College and put me in a better position starting off the school year. It will take pressure off of me working full time to be able to afford tuition. With this scholarship, I can now focus and prioritize my time on my studies.

Thank you Hawaiʻi Promise. Sincerely, I am at a loss for words.

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