The University of Hawaiʻi is asking the legislature for funding to expand a successful scholarship program for students with demonstrated financial need to UH‘s three, four-year campuses.
In 2017, the Legislature began appropriating $1.8 million on an annual basis to the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges to create a scholarship program for students who qualify for resident tuition with financial need called the Hawaiʻi Promise program. This program assists approximately 1,400 community college students statewide annually by providing the “last dollar” they need to cover the direct costs of their education.
One beneficiary was UH Maui College’s Alejandra Ramirez, a 2017 Baldwin High school graduate, and the only child of two immigrants.
“It made a huge difference,” said Ramirez. “I’m a first generation college student so I didn’t know what to expect or what to do when going to college.”
After earning associate’s degrees in liberal arts and public administration, the aspiring lawyer’s educational journey came to a halt. She found out there was nothing like Hawaiʻi Promise at UH West Oʻahu, where she was planning to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
“It was like my whole life was just put on pause,” recalled Ramirez. “I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I was just 100 percent sure, ‘Okay, I’m going to go to West Oʻahu and pursue a bachelor’s degree.’ but then when I realized the cost of it, I was just shocked. I didn’t know what to do. I was just stuck.”
Ramirez’s solution may be a UH proposal to expand Hawaiʻi Promise to qualified students attending UH’s four-year campuses at Mānoa, Hilo and West Oʻahu at a cost of $17.7 million. It would serve more than 5,000 students like Ramirez, who qualify for financial assistance.
“They should support Hawaiʻi Promise, because it really changes the lives of people,” Ramirez said.
From the UH News Service website