4 Ways to Help Pay for College

Four ways to afford your education

Do you want to go to college, but do not think you or your family can afford it?

Teachers and counselors say the word “scholarships”, but often leave Big Island students with a major question- “Brah, where do I even start”?  Continuing your education is expensive, but there are many methods of financial assistance available to students from Hawai’i.  Applicants from rural communities like ours are often prioritized by many of the educational funding sources, and there are millions of dollars designated specifically for local students.  Let’s take a look at some ways to help you pay for school.

Scholarships

Free aid based on academic and community achievements- Excellent Grades, extracurricular activities, community service, etc.  An individual application is usually required, and scholarships are offered by Universities/colleges, community organizations, and even local businesses-  KTA, Zippy’s & Keaukaha General Store to name a few.

Student Loans

Be even more careful with these then when you sneak to the fridge to eat some of that leftover Liliko’i Cheesecake in the middle of the night.  Student Loan monies MUST be paid back, with some interest, and it is the one type of debt that will never go away by itself- even if you went bankrupt!  Most student loans do have a 6-9 month grace period after you graduate before payments begin, but not even all those beautiful pikake graduation leis can hide you from student loan lenders.

Two Types of Loans: Subsidized (interest is deferred until you start repaying the loan) and Unsubsidized (interest is charged right away, starting with the first disbursement).  Make sure to visit your school’s financial aid office to go over details of any education loan you are considering.

Grants

FREE financial aid based on a student’s need, which is determined by completing the FAFSA application. Examples of educational grants are Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).   Did you catch the part where I said these are FREE MONIES from just filling out your FASFA online!  Maika’i!

Work-Study

Work-Study is available at all of our Big Island Undergraduate/Graduate Level Institutions.  This federal program provides employment for undergraduate and graduate students with financial needs.  Students complete part-time work, usually on campus, in exchange for assistance with educational costs. Essentially, you help to pay for your education by working for the school, AND whatever you earn is….TAX FREE towards your tuition!!!  Cheeeeeeeee!

For need-based financial aid, including student loans, grants and work-study, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. No matter how many schools you are applying to, you only need to fill out one FAFSA application and list the schools you want your FAFSA information to go to.  Pretty Cherry Ahh?  The FAFSA is available starting January 1 for the upcoming year and should be completed as soon as possible if you are planning to enroll in college that Fall. Please keep in mind, you have to fill out and submit your FAFSA application every year while you are in school. You should fill out the application regardless of your financial situation, as most students qualify for some form of assistance. For more details visit each college’s financial aid office/website, where you can get more information about deadlines and opportunities available at that specific college or university.

Remember, there will most likely be a separate scholarship application for each scholarship that you want to apply for.  Always double-check the scholarship application due date might be due earlier than the general admissions deadlines, so always double-check due-date.

Here are some websites with hundreds of scholarships for Big Island students to apply for, many of which don’t receive more than a handful of applicants.  Imagine submitting some basic information about yourself and a short essay and BOOM- you have been entered into a $10,000 winner-take-all tournament!  Now imagine that only two other students submitted applications for that same pile of cash!  I’d say, “U get chance”!

Hawai’i Based Financial Assistance Opportunities for Hawai’i Students:

www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/scholarships

apps.ksbe.edu/financialaid/

www.pauahi.org/scholarships/

www.alulike.org/services/kaipu_hana.html

Additional Financial Assistance Resources:

www.studentaid.ed.gov

www.fafsa.ed.gov

www.going2college.org

www.studentloans.gov