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Bill that aids community college-goers signed by Ige

The Maui News – Gov. David Ige has signed a bill that will provide $700,000 for scholarships to help students attend community colleges in the University of Hawaii system, including UH-Maui College.

House Bill 2501, which was introduced by Maui Rep. Angus McKelvey and Reps. Cindy Evans, Jarrett Keohokalole, Chris Lee John Mizuno and Nadine Nakamura, establishes the Hawaii Community College Promise Program. The program “provides scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students.”

Direct costs include any costs directly related to a student’s education, including tuition, educational fees, the cost of books and supplies and transportation between the student’s home and campus.

“While Hawaii ranked third in the nation for overall college affordability, attending college is still a big expense for families earning less than $30,000 annually,” said McKelvey, who represents West Maui and north Kihei and chairs the House Higher Education Committee.

Maui lawmakers were instrumental in developing and passing the bill, which Ige signed Friday at Honolulu Community College.

Students are eligible for a scholarship for a maximum of eight semesters, provided they:

• Qualify for Hawaii resident tuition.

• Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for each academic year and accept all federal and state aid, grants, scholarships and other funding sources that do not require repayment.

• Are enrolled in a classified degree or certificate program with six or more credits per semester.

• Maintain satisfactory academic pro-gress, to be determined by the campus and the federal requirements of Title IV.

• Have unmet direct cost needs, as determined by the campus.

The Promise Program was established last year as part of the state’s 55 by ’25 campaign, an effort to increase the percentage of working-age adults with two- or four-year degrees to 55 percent by 2025.

John Morton, UH vice president for community colleges, noted that funding in the state budget last year only covered some of the existing students at the community college level.

McKelvey said in a news release that the bill would allow the community colleges to expand the reach of the program to potential students. The bill appropriated $300,000 more than was requested by the governor.

“This year’s bill works to further solidify the program,” said Central Maui Rep. Justin Woodson, who chairs the House Education Committee.

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