UH changes Pacific islander aid
Most tuition waivers are to be replaced with scholarship funds
Pacific island students will have to pay more for their tuition at University of Hawaii campuses starting next year but will have more scholarship money available to them under a plan approved yesterday by the Board of Regents.
The plan eliminates most tuition waivers and replaces them with grants and scholarships.
Pacific island students, who now receive waivers to pay resident rather than nonresident tuition, will have to pay 1.5 times resident tuition, a 50 percent increase.
To offset the higher tuition, they will be eligible for a new Pacific Island Scholarship.
The higher tuition and scholarship takes effect in fall 2007. Pacific island students already enrolled will be able to continue paying the resident rate.
Thirty people testified against the proposal, most of them because of the 50 percent tuition increase for Pacific island students. American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono expressed some concerns since UH graduates 10 American Samoans a year.
The plan passed with seven votes from the 12-member board. Half of the members had voted earlier on a failed attempt to eliminate the tuition increase for Pacific islanders from the plan.
"If we're going to provide the 50 percent, why add it in the first place?" said Regent Marlene Hapai.
Linda Johnsrud, UH vice president of academic planning and policy, explained that the money comes from different sources. Tuition waivers are funded by taxpayers. Money for the scholarship will come from tuition revenues.
Other regents expressed concern that many students will be discouraged from attending UH by having to apply for the scholarship just to be able to pay the same amount of tuition they were paying before. There is also no guarantee that the scholarship amount will be large enough to offset the 50 percent tuition increase.
"In the proposal it doesn't give a specific number," said Ngirdemei Uludong, a UH-Manoa graduate student from Palau.
The plan leaves it up to each campus to set the criteria for the scholarship and the dollar value.
Pacific islanders were singled out because Hawaii Administrative Rules grant them and Asian students from jurisdictions that do not have institutions of higher education waivers of the nonresident tuition differential. School officials wanted to eliminate the waiver for students they feel can afford to pay the higher tuition, particularly the ones from Asian countries.
The university is in current violation of the rules because many Pacific island jurisdictions have community colleges that offer two-year degrees.