New scholarship helps 90 at HonCC

Close to 1,000 students enrolled at the University of Hawaii’s community colleges — including more than 90 at Honolulu Community College –will receive help from new state-funded scholarship designed to eliminate cost as a barrier to higher education.

An estimated 996 students statewide are eligible to have their tuition and other direct attendance costs completely covered this fall, thanks to the Hawaii Promise program, which was established with $1.8 million from the Legislature, according to a report in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The individual awards range from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars a year at the community college campuses, where annual resident tuition is just under $3,800 for full-time students.

The program will act as a so-called “last-dollar scholarship” that kicks in after all other federal aid — such as Pell grants — and public and private scholarships are exhausted

“If we reach a point where there is still a certain amount of unmet need not yet covered by grants, that’s the Hawaii Promise program: It’s a last-dollar scholarship that closes that gap so we can truly say to that student, ‘It’s covered,’” John Morton, UH’s vice president for community colleges, said in an interview.

To determine eligibility, students have to demonstrate financial need as defined by the federal government through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, for direct attendance costs: tuition, mandatory fees, books and transportation. The direct cost to attend one of UH’s seven community colleges is roughly $5,000 a year for residents when fees, books, supplies and transportation expenses are added in.

To be eligible, students also need to qualify for resident tuition, be enrolled in a degree program and take at least six credits — typically two classes — per semester. Students receiving Hawaii Promise funds will need to maintain their federal financial aid standing, which requires a minimum 2.0 grade point average and evidence of progression toward a degree.

The colleges — on four islands — specialize in career and vocational training programs including culinary arts, automotive technology, dental hygiene, veterinary technology, criminal justice and construction technology.

The $1.8 million in startup funding for Hawaii Promise was calculated based on the financial needs of existing students. Of the 24,000 students slated to attend a UH community college this fall, 1 out of every 3 students is receiving some form of need-based financial aid.

Here are the details:

STUDENTS RECEIVING HAWAII PROMISE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 2017-18

Hawaii Community College: 101
Honolulu Community College: 92
Kapiolani Community College: 188
Kauai Community College: 85
Leeward Community College: 271
UH Maui College: 169
Windward Community College: 90
Total: 996