The Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship offers free tuition, more for community college – Natural Self Esteem

People in Hi-Viz gear
Rayvan Kebekol (with red helmet) with carpentry students

carpenter Rayvan Kebekol builds on his future at Honolulu Community College with help from a Hawaii Promise scholarship. Hawaii Promise offers free state tuition to qualifying universities Hawaii Community college students with financial difficulties. For eligible students Hawaii Promise provides the “last dollar” to cover direct educational costs such as tuition, fees, and books that are not covered by other forms of financial assistance.

“The Hawaii The Promise scholarship has been a great help to me over the years,” said Kebekol, who is on track to earn an associate’s degree in May. “Because of the scholarship, I was able to afford books and materials for my classes and a bus pass for pre-COVID transportation. It has enabled me to pay for school necessities and thus helped me to advance in my career.”

Man sits on a wooden frame construction
Rayvan Kebekol with a joiner frame project

Kebekol was one of 1,800 students out of seven AH Community colleges across the state that benefited from nearly $3 million Hawaii Promise Scholarships disbursed for the 2020-21 academic year. The average award was $1,629, as detailed in a 2022 report Hawaii legislation (pdf).

More than half (59%) of the Hawaii Promise scholarships were awarded to students who identified as underrepresented, including Native Hawaiian, Filipino, Pacific Islander, Native American or Alaskan Native, African American or Black, and Hispanic. These under-represented groups accounted for 52% of the total AH Community college enrollment in 2020–21.

Less debt, more progress in your studies

the Hawaii The Promise grant has had a measurable impact on the lives of hundreds of recipients.

  • Less student loan debt: Hawaii Promise awardees took out student loans for non-direct educational expenses (such as rent, groceries, and living expenses) at a lower rate than nonawardees (11% vs. 13%).
  • More credits earned: 2020-21, Hawaii Promise recipients attempted and earned more credits than non-Hawaii Winners promise. More credits earned have academic and financial benefits, including a reduction in time to graduation.
  • Higher endurance and graduation rates for full-time students: Of the students who received a scholarship as freshmen in autumn 2018, 56% of those who first enrolled graduated full-time or are still enrolled, compared to 48% of those who did not receive funding.
  • Higher persistence and graduation rates for part-time students: For part-time students Hawaii Promised grantees returned at higher rates than their peers: 60% versus 48%. part time Hawaii Promise grantees graduate or continue to enroll at higher rates than their fellow students by more than 10 percentage points.

Legal Support

In 2017, the legislature approved $1.8 million to create the Hawaii Promise program for qualifying students attending a community college. In the years 2018 to 2021, the legislator has provided for one-off annual increases Hawaii Promise. In 2018, Gov. David Ige signed Bill 14, which earmarked $700,000 for fiscal year 2019 to provide qualifying students who are at all enrolled with additional financial aid for uncovered direct educational costs AH community college campus. In 2019, Act 61 committed an additional $700,000 for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

In the most recent report to the legislature, the students expressed how much their Hawaii Promise grants helped them.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, classes transitioned to remote access. My electricity and internet bills got a lot higher because we were all told to stay home and quarantine,” he said Taira Teves-Balaana Kauai CC student. “With the extra money the Hawaii The Promise grant has allowed me to pay my bills to continue attending my classes via Zoom.”

Leeward CC student Relene Kaaa said: “I am a grateful recipient of the Hawaii Promise scholarship. The scholarship funds enabled me to pay my tuition and buy books for school. We have two children, one under the age of two, and have been dependent on a single income during the pandemic. This scholarship directly impacted my ability to continue my education. I am interested in becoming an educator in my community Waiʻanae. Mahalo Nui Loa!”

Read more about the Hawaii Promise scholarship on AH Messages.

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