The Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Financial Aid

Find out everything you need to know about financial aid at Hawai‘i private schools.


Photo Provided Courtesy Of Iolani School

Photo: Courtesy of ʻIolani School.


Q. Who should apply for financial aid? 

A. Everyone who is interested in a school should apply; that may be the only way you’ll learn if you qualify. A big misconception is that if parents make “too much,” they won’t receive aid, but that’s not necessarily true. Most of the schools we spoke with are offering either the same amount as years past or even more. Make sure to let the school know about any changes to your finances this year that are not reflected in your 2022 tax returns.


Q. Will applying for aid affect my child’s chances of being admitted? 

A. No. Admission and financial aid decisions are separate and independent.


Q. Is need determined by my salary? 

A. Not entirely. Many parents ask, “How much do I have to make in order to qualify?” It depends on each person’s situation, including what assets or debt they have, the number of children in a tuition-charging school, as well as household income. Applications are taken on a case-by-case basis. The website has a calculator that takes into account various factors to analyze need. Find it at


Q. Do I need to apply every year? 

A. Yes. In general, if there is little or no change in your family’s circumstances, you can expect the award to stay at about the same level. Though the process doesn’t change much from year to year, some schools, such as St. Andrew’s and St. Anthony School, have shifted to new third-party application platforms this year, so the process may look a little different.


Q. Are there other options for financial aid? 

A. Checking with the school of your choice is always best—some, including Mary, Star of the Sea School, offer scholarships. The independent agency School and Student Services offers resources and support. There are also various scholarship opportunities available locally and nationally: Kamehameha Schools offers Pauahi Keiki Scholars and Kīpona scholarships for children with Native Hawaiian ancestry attending participating schools. Parents can apply for subsidies through PATCH Hawai‘i’s Preschool Open Doors program, Child Care Connection Hawai‘i, or Child Care Aware of America, which helps military families. Keiki O Ka ‘Āina’s HELP program also serves Native Hawaiian preschool children. Look for other resources from churches, community organizations and private foundations that support education. The Augustine Educational Foundation applications open in January. Mary, Star of the Sea School also offers sibling discounts.


Q. What are the common mistakes parents make?

A. Not starting early. Applications are often available in the fall and the process of gathering all the documents can be time-consuming. You’ll need your most recent tax returns before beginning. Punahou School offers financial aid webinars to assist its families. Turn in everything before the deadline so there is time for the office to ensure all necessary documents are in order, especially if the school needs any additional information to make a final decision. Reach out to the school for help if you have questions. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll receive aid.


Q. Do you need to repay financial aid? 

A. No. It is a grant, not a loan.


Q. If parents are divorced, do both of them still need to provide information?

A. Yes. Each biological parent needs to submit a separate form. Step-parents are often also required to do the same.