Removing Cost as a Barrier to Higher Education

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The high cost of college has been the focus of many family conversations and policy debates, not to mention media headlines. Research indicates that the average four-year college student leaves school with more than $23,000 in debt, and low-income students especially face many unexpected expenses that may not be covered by the conventional financial aid options.

In addition to students' academic preparation for college, financial challenges are another consistent predictor of completion in higher education. The University of Hawai'i Community College System's (UHCC) strategic plan focuses on improving completion rates, which means removing barriers such as "cost."

UHCC plays a vital role in ensuring access to higher education for all Hawai'i citizens, and therefore is committed to exploring every option available to remove the barriers that stifle students' success. State leaders have fulfilled that committed by establishing the Hawaii Promise Program to provide free in-state tuition for qualified University of Hawai'i Community College students with financial needs. UHCC and P-20 are working to ensure that all high school students and our continuing students complete the FAFSA so that all students can take advantage of Federal and University support for their education.

As illustrated in the graph, UHCC has increased the number of graduating Pell recipients over time. However, in the last few years, we've seen a downturn in graduates who have received a Pell award, that is reflective of the enrollment decreases due to the current economic environment.

A commitment that any student with financial need can fund the direct costs of their community college education.
Expanding the private scholarship support for students through the UH Foundation and community partners.
Removing textbook costs for students through Open Educational Resources and other zero cost approaches.

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