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aha event poster

To better support prospective Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander high school graduates, the University of Hawaiʻi and its partners, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the Native Hawaiian Education Association, are sponsoring a virtual college application webinar. Participants registered for the UH College Application ʻAha on May 19 or May 26 at 6 p.m. will also be eligible to win $500 scholarships, two of which will be awarded each night.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities differently. We want to let students know that it is safe to come to campus and that counselors are ready to help them submit their college application today,” said UH Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana. “When we look across the state, our high schools with the largest Native Hawaiian student populations are showing the greatest decline in college applications to the University of Hawaiʻi. We need to remind students that college is accessible, college is attainable, college is affordable, and the time to apply is now.”

Two nursing students

Students may join in the virtual application event by reserving a spot today through the Next Steps to Your Future website (, where other support services, such as free advising and summer UH Community College classes, are also available.

A college degree is valuable in many ways. Those with college degrees earn more and have more job opportunities than those without a degree. In addition, college educated people also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. UH and its community partners are committed to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students who continue to enrich indigenous perspectives and create vibrant campus communities.

Declining Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander enrollment

student working on ti leaf

The public health and economic crisis and other disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have impacted the college-going rate of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. According to Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education’s report on the high school class of 2020, 35% of Native Hawaiians enrolled in college immediately after graduation, a drop from 44% in the class of 2019, and 29% of Pacific Islanders enrolled in 2020, compared with 35% the year prior.

The trend for the class of 2021 continues to show a concerning decline. The goal of the UH College Application ʻAha is to increase fall 2021 applications throughout the UH System by 1,000 students.

Important opportunities for all prospective students will be highlighted through the event, such as the free UH Community College classes, summer advising and scholarships being offered through the Next Steps to Your Future program. Participants in the UH College Application ʻAha will also be able to learn about all 10 campuses in the UH System including UH Community Colleges. Representatives will be available in breakout sessions to assist students with applying, summer initiatives, financial aid opportunities and qualifications, and campus-specific questions.

“The pursuit of knowledge is a highly valued element of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island culture,” said Mehanaokala Hind, senior vice president for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. “With hope on the horizon in a post-COVID era, let us be inspired by our cultural heritage and look to education as our pathway to a healthy kanaka, a healthy ʻohana and a healthy Hawaiʻi. One of the positive steps we can take to move our families closer to achieving well-being is a college education.”

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