The student newspaper of Honolulu Community College

Senate committee to take up scholarship ‘promise’ bill

The state Senate Committee on Higher Education will discuss a bill on Tuesday that will assist with college finances. Dubbed Senate Bill 1162, the measure would establish the “Hawai’i’s Promise Program,” which would award “last-dollar scholarships” to help students cover tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation for qualifiers. It has already passed the state House, but senators will discuss their proposed amendments to the bill.
Last month the House passed the bill with “none voting no,” but with amendments. These included, but were not limited to requirements that students maintenan a 2.5 grade point average and a 24-credit minimum to maintain the scholarship; extending the effective date to July 1st, 2050; and requiring students’ enrollment in a UH undergraduate or non-graduate certificate program to qualify for the program.
House also offered to the Committee on Finance the option of “appropriating $11,560,000 to establish and implement the program.”
Around 60 total testimonies were submitted and posted on the Hawaii State Legislature site. All of the testifiers supported the House version and urged the bill’s passing. Supporters of the bill mainly argued that the bill would help those of lower income complete college to better themselves and the community.
Djojeanne Simon, a Leeward Community College student, graduated from Waipahu High School with honors but fears an inability to “continue due to college costs.” Filemon Evangel Lancelot C. Lagon III, a military serviceman attending LCC, said “…younger generation students also would not have to worry…as they are more focused on studying” at colleges. Private citizen Davelyn Quijano argues that “our economy will not grow healthily if…income inequality persists.” Quijano believes scholarships to be a means to rectify income inequality.
The Senate version of the bill wants to have UH students be eligible for scholarship consideration “for a maximum of 8 semesters.” Another proposal is that 2-year and 4-year colleges be separated into their own categories for appropriation of Hawaii Promise Program funds. Senate also will discuss “inserting language that clarifies” community college students have to meet “different scholarship requirements” than students in non-community college campuses.
But perhaps the largest change is the allocation of money to specific colleges.
Although the Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended $13,587,000 to be given to the program, they are considering the funds to be distributed to UH Manoa, UH Hilo, UH West Oahu, and “the community colleges.” Of the 4 stated previously, UH Manoa would receive the most in Senate proposals – $9,387,000 (about 69%).
“The community colleges” would receive $ 1,829,000 (about 13%). There is also no clear statement saying if the community college fund will be split evenly among the campuses under this jurisdiction.
The hearing is scheduled Tuesday, March 21 in the State Capitol (in conference room 414) at 1:15 pm. It is open to anyone wishing to attend.
By Chris Garcia, Ka La staff writer

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