More money may come for UH scholarships

HONOLULU — Students could be looking at more scholarship opportunities if a University of Hawai‘i legislative budget request to expand the Hawai‘i Promise program is approved.

The Hawaii Promise program gives need-based scholarships to students who qualify for resident tuition at UH campuses.

The program was started after the state Legislature in 2017 started dedicating about $1.8 million annually to UH community colleges for a need-based scholarship program.

The current two-year program provides support for all direct costs, which include tuition, fees, transportation and textbooks. The proposed four-year program will be available only to Pell-Grant-eligible students, and will only cover tuition and fees.

The proposal aims to expand the Hawaiʻi Promise program to qualified students attending four-year campuses at Manoa, Hilo and West Oʻahu, at an annual cost of $17.7 million.

In a news release about the proposal, UH said the reason for the increase is many of the higher-paying jobs in Hawai‘i require a bachelor’s degree.

“A bachelor’s-degree holder earns a million dollars more over their lifetime than someone with a high-school degree. In addition, those with college degrees are healthier, less likely to be incarcerated at public expense, draw on fewer social services, vote more, volunteer more and are less likely to become unemployed during a recession,” UH said in the news release.

According to recent data, Hawai‘i Promise awardees took out student loans at about the same rate as non-awardees — 16% versus 17%. However, for those who took out loans, Hawai‘i Promise recipients borrowed 14% less than their peers — an average of $4,972 versus $5,679.

UH also says Hawai‘i Promise recipients had higher passing rates and earned higher grades than their peers. In each term since Hawai‘i Promise began, scholarship recipients have earned a 3.0 grade point average or better, according to UH.

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