UH program would remove cost barriers for community college students

The University of Hawaii has unveiled a proposal that would virtually guarantee an education for all community college students in the state without having to take out student loans.

The university says it is working with state leaders to secure the $2.5 million in funding needed to implement the pilot program that would impact an estimated thousand students through a scholarship program called Hawaii’s Promisel.

The goal of the program is to remove cost as a barrier to higher education, clearing the path for community college students to complete their education.

Hawaii’s Promise is a “last dollar” scholarship that would provide any financial needs not met by other forms of financial aid, such as federal grants and benefits and scholarships from UH, employers and other private sources. The program would cover tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation.

“We already have financial aid from the federal government, the university itself, private donors and through the UH Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and employers, but there’s still a gap that prevents many from pursuing their higher education,” said UH Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton.

“The best way to lift people out of poverty is to address educational inequality and provide access to higher education; Hawaiʻi’s Promise does exactly that,” he said.

If the program becomes a reality, eligible students will have to qualify for Hawaii resident tuition and be enrolled in a degree or certificate program at a UH community college for at least six credits per semester. Students will also need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine their unmet need and maintain standards of academic progress as defined by the Federal Title IV programs.

If successful at the community college level, the university hopes to expand the program to undergraduate students at all 10 campuses.

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