Dollars for Scholars paves the path to college for Wai‘anae coast haumāna
By Nadine Lagaso
August 30, 2016
Rising college tuition costs can be a roadblock for students who want to pursue a post-high education. Kamehameha Schools is part of a new collaboration to help Wai‘anae coast students break down that barrier by walking them through the financial aid application process.
Financial aid workshops were held recently throughout the region as part of a community collaboration called “Dollars for Waiʻanae Scholars.” The partnership includes KS as well as Waiʻanae High School, Nānākuli High and Intermediate School, Kamaile Academy, Teach for America, Leeward Community College, UH West O‘ahu, and Mānoa Educational Talent Search.
“This is a perfect example of what a regional approach looks like within our Community Engagement and Resources Group,” said Kalei Kailihiwa, KS regional director for the Waiʻanae coast. “Our staff is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with members of our community to make a greater impact in the lives of keiki so they can succeed.”
The Wai‘anae coast is home to the highest concentration of Native Hawaiians in the state. According to state census data, approximately 60 percent of the region’s population is Native Hawaiian.
Dollars for Waiʻanae Scholars works directly with high schools to raise awareness among Native Hawaiian students about financial aid opportunities. The campaign workshops help haumāna complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) required for federal and state financial assistance. It also engages high school students in encouraging their peers to complete the application process.
Amplifying Educational Efforts
Elaine Bowler, college and career counselor at Wai‘anae High School, says that the campaign maximizes the work she has already been doing.
“By communicating our individual efforts and merging all the financial aid activities and events into a suite of activities, I was better able to share with high school seniors and their families the resources available to them within school and in the community,” she said. “Advertising all of the resources in one format also gave students and parents more options to access support.”
The Power of Partnerships
Although KS does not own any land in the Waiʻanae region, efforts like Dollars for Wai‘anae Scholars are important to help fulfill the educational vision of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.
Joe Mareko, college recruiter for the University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu, has been a key supporter of the Dollars for Wai‘anae Scholars campaign.
“As a resident and graduate of Nānākuli High School, I am seeing firsthand how partnerships like this impact my community. I see more families taking advantage of college events, finding out ways to pay for college, and supporting their haumāna to succeed after high school.
“I am proud of the continuous work that we are doing for a region with students who, although they face tougher struggles in life than the norm, have the potential to exceed all educational expectations. All they need is a guiding hand, and we are providing that.”
Kamehameha’s Community Learning Center at Nānākuli plays an integral part of the campaign by serving as a one-stop-shop for financial aid information and support.
In addition to helping students complete the FAFSA, KS staffers also introduce them to KS post-high opportunities including the Nā Hoʻokama a Pauahi need-based scholarship. Since the inception of the one-stop-shop program in 2014, Nā Hoʻokama a Pauahi application completion rates have increased by 129 percent, and award rates increased by 120 percent.
If you have questions about post-high scholarships, please call the KS Applicant Services Center at 808-534-8080 or toll free at 1-800-842-4682, then press 2. For face-to-face kōkua, visit the KS Resource Center nearest you. Be on the lookout for info on upcoming Dollar for Wai‘anae workshops starting in October.
KS Nā Ho‘okama a Pauahi Scholarship
Application window: 10/03/16 – 02/17/17
This need-based scholarship is available to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees at an accredited post-high institution in the United States recognized by KS.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Application window: 10/01/16 – 06/30/18
Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, requires the completion of FAFSA forms to determine student eligibility for financial aid including federal grants, loans, and work-study funding.
For the first time ever, families are able to submit prior-year tax forms and documents (2015-2016) to complete their Nā Ho‘okama a Pauahi and FAFSA and applications for the 2017-2018 academic year.
If you have questions, please call the KS Applicant Services Center at 808-534-8080 or toll free at 1-800-842-4682, press 2. For kōkua, visit the KS Resource Center nearest you. Be on the lookout for info on upcoming Dollar for Wai‘anae Scholars workshops, starting in October.