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2017 Hawai‘i College Guide

(Sponsored) Application to Acceptance: Choose the best fit, find financial aid options, plan campus visits and more with this complete resource. Plus current students share firsthand knowledge on financial aid.


(page 11 of 16)

Hula Dancers

UH-West O‘ahu Kūnihi Ka Mauna: Hula Journeys (Hawaiian Pacific Studies 312) students dance in their final performance at the end of the semester in front of the UH-West O‘ahu Library.
Photo: Mellissa Lochman, University of Hawai‘i - West O‘ahu


Financial Aid

Both the parents and the education experts we talked to agree on one thing: It’s critical to involve teens in the financial conversation from early on. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and not look at the financial realities. “It’s hard in Hawai‘i because you have a high cost of living: nearly double the national average for the cost of a home, private school tuition, possibly K through 12, and then you’re planning for your retirement,” says Klein. “Financial aid may not go as far, because those costs aren’t going into consideration for your family contribution.” Let’s look at some options for financial aid.  


The biggest provider of student aid in the country is the office of Federal Student Aid, which handles loans, grants and work-study programs to the tune of $150 billion each year. Other sources include state aid, aid from colleges and aid from nonprofits and private organizations, like Rotary or Lions clubs. 


All students should start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which takes about half an hour to fill out online once you gather tax returns and other pertinent documents. The application will also be shared with the financial-aid offices of the colleges listed on the application, so the colleges can figure out what aid they want to offer. Colleges look at the cost of attending the school, subtract the expected family contribution, and that indicates the financial need. Applications are available each year in early January at fafsa.gov. Important note: FAFSA applications need to be filled out each year a student is in college. 


Anywhere from three days to three weeks after filing, the office of Federal Student Aid sends you a Student Aid Report. Look this over closely to make sure everything is correct. From there, a college can send you an aid offer, either on paper or electronically. 


Don’t discount the possibility of independent scholarships. Mid-Pacific Institute senior Lamar Carter, for example, armed with his FAFSA application, landed one of only 10 scholarships offered annually by the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) that not only pays for his entire undergraduate tuition at UH Mānoa, but also guarantees admission to the School of Medicine when he graduates. Many students would have been happy to call it a day at that point, but Carter had also used his FAFSA results to pursue a wide range of independent scholarships. “There were organizations giving out anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $2,000,” he says. “I wouldn’t get any of the scholarships I didn’t apply to, and there’s no harm in applying, so it just made sense.”


All told, Carter says the independent scholarships, from organizations ranging from Burger King to the National Eagle Scout Association, were worth about 20 percent of the value of the UH/JABSOM scholarship.


Chaminade Students

Chaminade University is regarded for its remarkably diverse student body—students come from Hawai‘i, the U.S. Mainland, Pacific region and beyond. The community is a family where students mature into world citizens who respect the complexity and diversity of others, value community service and strive to create a more just society.
Photo: Courtesy of Chaminade University


Nationwide (but not federal)

Nearly 300 colleges, universities and scholarship programs use the College Board Scholarship Service application, called CSS/PROFILE, to determine to whom they’ll grant aid. The application is different from FAFSA and takes between 45 minutes and two hours to complete. There is a fee to file this application, so only do so if the school(s) or scholarship programs of your choice are asking for it. It’s $25 for one college or program; additional reports are $16. 


State Level

In 2015, the University of Hawai‘i Foundation gave nearly $40 million in student aid to help students attend the UH system. “The bulk of our students are still first-generation kids or of minority/immigrant status, so the need for scholarships is particularly great,” says Donna Vuchinich, the president and CEO of the UH Foundation. She recommends using the organization’s database, found at uhfoundation.org, to “slice and dice it” to see what financial aid might be a good fit. She has two pieces of advice. One, if a student is enrolling in a community college, ensure she or he is taking at least 15 credits. “If kids don’t take that many credits, they don’t tend to do as well.” Second, apply early: “November and December for summer scholarships; February through May for fall. Don’t wait until you graduate to start looking.” 


The Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) administers more than 200 scholarship funds and annually awards $4.5 million in student aid for students bound for college locally or on the Mainland. “We begin the process in November, and encourage families to start early,” says Eric La‘a, the Senior Development officer at HCF. “The application process is quite extensive.” The good news? The platform is set up so students can be matched with more than one scholarship. But the number of applicants has increased significantly in recent years, so apply as early as you can.


Students who are of Hawaiian ancestry may be eligible for scholarships, ranging from $500 to $4,000, through Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). Visit oha.org/scholarships for information on the two OHA programs, and a downloadable guide with information on additional scholarships, financial aid resources and support services for Hawaiian students. 


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