MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii's flagship campus is trying to attract more students to reverse a decline in enrollment.
And the skyrocketing costs of higher education on the mainland drives could be key to reversing the trend.
Regis Osumi's daughter toured the UH-Manoa campus recently, trying to figure out where she wants to go to college.
"For me, it's up to her, whatever makes her feel comfortable. Of course, (there is) cost, so staying home is much better, but it's whatever she wants," Osumi said.
Hawaii students pay about $11,000 a year for tuition. While tuition at UH has continued to rise in recent years, it's still below what students at comparable institutions on the mainland pay, UH officials say.
"The UH institution is ranked as one of the most affordable institutions across the nation and we have been ranked as an affordable institution for the past several years," said Ryan Yamaguchi, associate director of admissions.
For some families, the cost of a mainland education is simply out of reach.
"The reality is, with the cost of college increasing and maybe with the financial aid packages not coming out to be financially feasible, I have seen more students having to stay home in Hawaii," said April Inouye, a counselor at Kalaheo High School.
After years of UH tuition increases, state lawmakers are now considering a proposal to temporarily halt future hikes.
School officials said that while tuition has gone up to offset a reduction in state funding, UH-Manoa is still an affordable option.
"Hawaii students from our university, we have a lower percentage that graduate with debt than most states in the country. Those that do graduate with debt tend to have a lower debt than most other states," said UH president David Lassner.