The University of Hawaii is working with state leaders to set up a scholarship program that will allow students with financial need to attend community college at no cost, according to the University.

The scholarship program—Hawaii’s Promise—will give eligible students free tuition to a University of Hawaii community college. To qualify, students must be eligible for resident tuition in Hawaii and must be enrolled in a degree or certificate.

The goal is to take away the burden of the cost of college so that more students complete their college degrees without being plagued by student loan debt upon graduation.

The University is looking to secure $2.5 million to start the program, which would help about 1,000 students. Approximately $1.7 million is needed to fully implement the program for current students, while the remaining balance would be available for new students.

The program would cover any financial need that is not covered by forms of free aid, such as the Federal Pell Grant program, UH opportunity scholarships, Kamehameha Schools scholarships, UH Foundation scholarships, other private scholarships, the GI Bill, and employer sponsored scholarships. Eligible needs that the program would cover include tuition, fees, books, and transportation.

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“The best way to lift people out of poverty is to address educational inequality and provide access to higher education; Hawaii’s Promise does exactly that,” said UH Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton.

In addition to making sure they are taking at least six credits each semester, students will also need to complete the FAFSA, as well as remain in good academic standing.

If the program is a success, there are plans to expand it to all ten of the University’s campuses.

Image Copyright Dhilung Kirat.