HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige signed a bill Friday allocating $700,000 to fund scholarship for community college students who demonstrate financial need.
The fund will go to the state's Community College Promise Program, which was originally enacted in fall 2017 as part of an effort to provide free in-state tuition for qualified University of Hawaii students.
"For many of our students the barriers to college aren't necessarily academic, instead the biggest barrier is the cost of tuition, fees, books and loan obligations that they must take out in order to attend college," Ige said, at a signing ceremony at Honolulu Community College.
The governor said over 1,500 students have benefited from the program since it was implemented last year.
UH says the program is a last dollar scholarship, which means students are first awarded Pell grants, UH scholarships, and private scholarships. Hawaii Promise scholarships are given if needed for any additional unmet costs.
Aukai Rieman, who recently completed his associate's degree in Hawaiian studies at HCC, said he received the scholarship the last two semesters. He said the program helped with basic necessities like buying textbooks and commuting.
"I live in Nanakuli so it helped with travel, that was a big thing for me," he said.
Others say the program meant more than financial assistance, it also helped with studies.
"The scholarship itself helped me not focus on the payments that I have to make on school, but actually help me focus on school itself, so it actually took a big load off of my shoulders," said Kelley Caitano, a computing electronics networking technology major at HCC.
The state says the average Hawaii Promise Scholarship is about $1,400.