Hawai'i State News

Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship program is a financial lifeline for UH community college students

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“This scholarship has been helping continue my education goals without the burden of student loans. I’ve recently had a baby and lost my hometown due to wildfires, but not having to worry about paying for school has been uplifting.”

That’s just one of the many powerful scholarship recipient testimonials that are part of the 2023 annual report to the Hawaiʻi Legislature from the Hawai‘i Promise scholarship program offered by the University of Hawaiʻi.

The report documents the significant, positive impact the program has on community college students in the UH system with proven financial need.

The report found that scholarship program recipients earn more credits, reducing their time to complete a degree and increasing their likelihood of completing one; have higher passing rates of 3.0 grade point average or better; and are more likely to stay enrolled by a margin of 69% vs. 65% compared to non-Hawaiʻi Promise UH students.


Eighty-four percent of program participants would have been unable to enroll if not for Hawaiʻi Promise, and 60% are Native Hawaiians, Filipinos or from other ethnic groups underrepresented in higher education.

“We are a family of 5 with one income. Everyone knows that Hawaiʻi is one of the most expensive states to live in. The Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship helped cover all my expenses for my [associate in science in teaching] degree,” said another of the program’s scholarship recipients. “Thank you so much for helping mama’s like me who put college on hold to raise their family, go back and get a degree. God bless you folks!”

Students do not apply for the scholarships, which are awarded as part of their financial aid package after all other means of aid are exhausted. Hawaiʻi Promise is only for students who qualified for federal financial aid after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.


UH is asking the state Legislature during its 2024 session to add $19 million a year to its budget to expand the program to UH-Mānoa, UH-Hilo and UH-West Oʻahu.

According to the annual report, almost $3.8 million was awarded to 1,774 eligible students throughout the seven UH community colleges in fiscal year 2023. The average award per student was $2,142, covering costs such as tuition, books and fees.

Since its inception in 2017, Hawaiʻi Promise has served 8,643 UH students.


“For a single parent who has put a halt in pursuing my college education because I needed to prioritize providing for my family and due to lack of financial resources, Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship made my long-time dream come true by helping me pursue my first college degree,” said another Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship recipient.

  • Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship recipient Miranda Schreier. (Image courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi)
  • Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship recipient Lindsey Millerd. (Image courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi)
  • Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship recipient Shane Shimabukuro. (Image courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi)

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