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Hawai‘i Community College Student Support Bills Become Law

June 27, 2019, 10:36 AM HST
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Gov. David Ige signed SB50 into law with Rep. Della Au Belatti and UH Community College representatives. PC: Hawaiʻi House of Representative – Majority.

To offset the costs of a community college student’s basic student needs, such as food and transportation, and paying for tuition, state lawmakers passed two bills last session, appropriating more than $2.3 million in state funds to help our young people achieve their dream of a college education.

Gov. David Ige  signed one of these bills, SB50 SD2 HD1 the Hawai‘i Nutrition Employment and Training Program (HINET), into law during a ceremony at the State Capitol on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

  • This bill appropriates $910,000 ($455,000 for each of the next two fiscal years) to continue the HINET program and hire seven full-time instructional and student support positions.
  • HINET helps students cover the cost of food, transportation, books, and necessary tools.
  • HINET is a workforce and education training program offered to students who receive or are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and are enrolled at least part-time at a University of Hawaiʻi community college in an approved program.
  • HINET staff work with students one-on-one to address their needs and goals, and match them with training.

Rep. Justin H. Woodson, chair of the House Lower & Higher Education Committee, said this bill helps students pay for their basic needs so they can focus on their education.

Rep. Justin H. Woodson. PC: Hawai‘i House of Representatives

“If a student cannot get to school, doesn’t have the needed text book, or is so hungry they cannot focus on their lessons, if is very difficult to complete a program and earn a college degree,” said Rep. Woodson (Kahului, Pu‘unēnē, Old Sand Hills, Maui Lani). “There are many hurdles that low-income students must overcome to get an education and make their lives better. Legislators want to do all we can to invest in our students and therefore invest in the future of Hawaiʻi.”

The second bill, SB316 SD2 HD2 – Hawaiʻi Community College Promise Program, was signed by the governor on June 7 and is now Act 61.

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This bill provides $1.4 million ($700,000 for each of the next two fiscal years) to cover community college tuition for eligible students once all other federal aid and public and private scholarships are exhausted.

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The bill also requires the University of Hawaiʻi to collect data on how well the Promise Program directly increases the likelihood that a recipient attends college and completes a degree program.

“Tuition support gives students a foot in the door,” said Rep. Woodson. “With that help, they are moving closer to achieving their educational goals and dreams.”

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