via Ka Leo O Hawaii: UH Manoa Student College Newspaper & Media – Not all graduates swamped with debt.

By Junghee Lee


Published: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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About 33 percent of college students will graduate without any financial aid debt.

Due to the high cost of college education, many people might think that all college students graduate with a huge debt, but this is not true according to recent statistics.

About a third of students graduate from college with no debt at all, according to the Spencer Foundation, a private foundation that supports educational research. The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is one of the colleges that prove this to be true.

According to last year’s UH financial aid report, the average debt upon gradation showed a total of $14,818, including law and medical students.

“(UH is) supposed to be lower than the national level (of debt) because of the price of tuition,” said Jodie Kuba, director of UHM financial aid services.

The current UH in-state tuition for 2009 to 2010 is $3,384, and $9,408 for nonresident students.

“Our nonresident tuition is about the same as resident tuition at some mainland schools,” said Kuba.

Even though UH tuition is lower than at many other schools, some students still struggle to pay.

“I go to school full-time and work about three to four days as a parking valet at a hotel to pay my tuition,” said Jong Kim, a UHM junior. “It gets pretty stressful balancing school and work.”

For students like Kim, there are two ways to receive help to pay tuition. The first is to receive scholarships within the department of their major, such as the Department of Arts and Sciences.

“The institution gives out merit achievement scholarships (given out by the departments) and Mānoa Opportunity Grants of about 16.5 million dollars,” said Kuba.

The second is to apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). According to last school year’s financial aid report, 6,777 students applied for financial aid. 4,054 students were judged to have financial need and 777 students had their financial need fully met.

However, there are eligibility requirements needed to receive aid.

“Citizenship, making academic progress and, if anything else is needed, we’ll let them know. Then we’ll do an award offer, which includes student loans,” said Kuba.

For the 2008 to 2009 school year, UH Mānoa gave out $10.4 million in federal grants and $52.8 million in federal loans.

The FAFSA can be filled out online beginning Jan. 31 of every year.