While paying for college can be challenging, using loans, scholarships, and grants can help make your dreams a reality — including in Hawaii. By finding Hawaii-specific grants and scholarships, you can minimize your student loan debt.
If you are lucky enough to live in Hawaii, then you know firsthand how beautiful it is — and how expensive it can be. Around 49 percent of graduates from Hawaii colleges had student loan debt in the Class of 2017, with an average amount of $24,955. While this number is high, Hawaii’s average student loan debt ranks as the 9th lowest in the nation.
This is due in part to the number of college funding options available for Hawaii residents. From state-based student loans to scholarships and grants just for Hawaiians, there are numerous options for Hawaiians when it comes to paying for college. Read on to learn more about how you can fund your education in the Aloha state.
Getting Financial Aid for College
To obtain financial aid for college, there are three basic steps that every student must take. Going through the process fully can help you maximize the amount of funding that you can obtain for your education.
Fill Out the FAFSA
First, every student should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the single most important step, as this form allows you to be considered for federal and state financial aid. It is also used by many colleges and universities to evaluate students for potential financial aid as well.
It is used for most types of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work study jobs and stu-dent loans. Available online on October 1 each year, it is free to fill out and submit the FAFSA. Students should apply as early as possible to maximize their chances of receiving aid from the more limited pool of financial aid available from non-governmental sources. Students must re-submit the FAFSA each year.
Contact Your Financial Aid Department
Second, students should contact their college or university’s financial aid department to determine if there are additional financial aid forms. Some schools require separate applications for financial aid, in addition to or instead of the FAFSA. If your school requires different or additional forms, be sure to note the deadline to apply, and submit your application as soon as possible after the applications are made available.
Apply for Private Scholarships & Grants
Third, students should search and apply for private scholarships and grants. Although many scholarships and grants may be for just a few hundred dollars, this type of aid does not require repayment, so it is highly advantageous. Students can search online for scholarships and grants. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully, and meet all deadlines.
Determine How Much Financial Aid You Will Need
There are two tools that you can use to help estimate how much financial aid you might receive: the FAFSA4caster and net price calculators. The FAFSA4caster is available from the Department of Education, and can be used to determine the amount of federal financial aid you may qualify for, including grants, work study, and loans. While the FAFSA4caster will not be precise given that your amount of financial aid will depend on factors such as where you go to school, it will give you an idea of your eligibility for certain types of federal student aid.
>> Read More: Need-Based and Non Need-Based Financial Aid Guide
Net price calculators can be used to help you determine how much you will be required to pay in tuition and fees after factoring in scholarships and grants. These calculators, which are often available directly on schools’ websites, help you figure out the actual price of attendance after grants, scholarships, and other aid. That will give you an idea of how much money you will need to fully cover the cost of attending college.
Hawaii Student Loans
If you live in Hawaii and are planning to attend college in there, you may be eligible for a specific loan for Hawaii residents. The State Higher Education Loan, or SHEL, is awarded to undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. Because funding for SHEL loans is limited, not all applicants will be awarded this type of loan.
Eligibility for SHEL loans is limited to Hawaii residents who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program. Applicants must have a demonstrated financial need and loan limits are based on funding availability. Each loan has a 5% fixed interest rate.
After a student graduates or drops below half-time status, he or she has a nine-month grace period before the repayment period begins. One of the advantages of SHEL loans, in addition to having a relatively low, fixed interest rate, is that they require both a pre-disbursement counseling session and an exit interview. This can help students make more informed choices about student loans and their finances. It is important to note that SHEL loans cannot be consolidated with federal student loans via the Direct Consolidation Loan program, only through student loan refinancing.
Hawaii Scholarships for College
Scholarships are a great way to pay for college because — unlike student loans — they do not have to be repaid. For many students, the challenge often lies in finding scholarships. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools available to help students search for and locate the best scholarships — including ones that are specific to Hawaii.
A great place to start is with an online scholarship search tool. LendEDU’s tool allows you to input specific criteria to find scholarships that you might qualify for and then review deadlines and other criteria so that you can begin applying. For example, you might want to consider applying to the following five Hawaii college scholarships:
1) Fukunaga Scholarship Foundation: $16,000 total
The Fukunaga Scholarship Foundation offers scholarships in the amount of $4,000 annually to Hawaii residents seeking degrees in Business Administration or other business-related fields at any accredited four-year college or university. The deadline to apply is Feb. 19, 2019.
2) Hawai’i Community Foundation: $2,500
The Hawai’i Community Foundation Scholarship program grants scholarships in varying amounts based on different donor criteria, up to $2,500. Most scholarships require students to be a resident of Hawaii, to attend an accredited two- or four-year college or university as an undergraduate or graduate student, maintain full-time student status, and have a minimum 2.7 GPA. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2019.
3) Hawaii Education Association Teacher Scholarships: $3,000
The Hawaii Education Association (HEA) offers a Student Teacher Scholarship for its members or children or grandchildren of its members. To be eligible, members must have belonged to HEA for at least one year and be in good standing. They must also be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or post-baccalaureate program as student teachers. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2019.
4) Loyd M. Fujie Scholarship for Accounting Major Students: $2,500
This scholarship is awarded to full-time undergraduate freshman applicants based on their academic merit. To qualify, applicants must have graduated from a public high school in Hawaii, have a minimum high school GPA of 3.00 and a combined SAT score of 1500 or ACT score of 21. Applicants must also intend to pursue a major in accounting. The deadline to apply is March 18, 2019.
5) R.W. “Bob” Holden Scholarship: $1,000
The R.W. “Bob” Holden Scholarship is available to students at accredited universities who are majoring in hotel management. Students must also be Hawaii residents with a minimum GPA of 3.0, and a full-time junior or senior in college at the time of their application. The deadline to apply is June 29, 2019.
Hawaii Grants for College
Scholarships and grants are two great sources of funding for college, because they are essentially “free money.” The terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between the two. Generally, scholarships are awarded based on merit, such as for academic achievement or athletic excellence. In contrast, grants are often awarded based on financial need. Grants often come from the federal and state government, or directly from colleges and universities.
There are multiple grants that are geared towards Hawaiian students. They include:
1) University of Hawaii Opportunity Grant: Amount Varies
This grant, offered by the University of Hawaii, is available to residents of Hawaii with demon-strated financial need. Students must be enrolled at least half-time as an undergraduate student, and must apply using the FAFSA. Students can reapply each year if they are making satisfactory progress. Applicants should check with the specific University of Hawaii campus that they plan to attend regarding deadlines for this grant.
2) Hawaii Community College Achievement Grant: Amount Varies
The Hawai’i Community College Achievement Grant is awarded to students who have demonstrated achievement or service to their school, such as those students who have served in student government. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled at least half-time (six credit hours) enrollment at Hawaii Community College.
3) Native Hawaiian Tuition Waiver: Amount Varies
For students of Native Hawaiian descent, the Native Hawaiian tuition serves as a grant program. Students qualify based on financial need and must complete the FAFSA to be eligible. They must also be native Hawaiian and be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at an eligible school. Specific grade point average requirements will vary based on the school, as will the dead-line to apply.
4) Paul Pua’a ‘Ohana, Paul Moses Murray & Malia Murray Grant: up to $700
This award is given to college students and students at technical schools in amounts of up to $700. To be eligible, students must have demonstrated financial need and have completed the FAFSA. Preference is given to students with special circumstances and residents of Moloka`i, as well as students of Hawaiian ancestry. The deadline to apply is March 20, 2019.
5) Hawaii State Incentive Grant: $200 to $2,000
This grant is offered to residents of Hawaii who have demonstrated financial need and who are enrolled in a participating Hawaii state school. Funds are available only for undergraduate tuition. The grant can be renewed and the deadline for applications is rolling.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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