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How the University of Hawaii is trying campus-funded financial aid

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In Hawaii, efforts at making college more affordable start in what is perhaps the most obvious place: the colleges themselves.
The University of Hawaii has been changing their policy regarding institutional aid – as in, not federal, not state, but campus revenues.

"[We found that] not only could campuses give both achievement awards as well as need-based opportunity awards, but we also added in our own work study," says Linda Johnsrud, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Hawaii System Office.
After encouraging the U-H campuses to award some aid in work study, they discovered that if students are on campus working they tend to be more engaged and stay in the school.
In addition to promoting work study awards, U-H is also focused on scholarships – but not the traditional sort. The B+ Scholarship is a small state scholarship based on both merit and need, while the 15 to Finish Campaign encourages students to take a full course load of 15 credits (versus 12-14 credits, which is the norm, but which makes it impossible for students to graduate in four years). B+ scholars are incentivized into the 15 to Finish program: in order to continue receiving the scholarship funding, students must complete 15 credits at the outset. "We're really trying to change that norm [of 12-14 credits]," Johnsrud says, as failure to complete a degree program within four years can become prohibitively expensive for students to complete at all.
Another strategy U-H has employed is freezing summer tuition. Summer tuition has historically been a matter of self-sufficiency; there is no state or federal funding available for summer classes and there is always a higher tuition in the summer to offset costs. In addition to that, U-H's main campus in Manila is now offering a discounted "bridge" course the summer before students officially start their degree programs so they can at least get one class under their belts. This is especially helpful for students who place in a remedial level to help them get a head start.

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
Source: Linda Johnsrud, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Hawaii System Office
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