The University of Hawaii is making cash grants available to students in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, using federal funds from the CARES Act that sent millions of dollars to public and private colleges in the state.
UH students can quickly apply online for the grants, which range from $200 to more than $2,000 depending on the campus, student need and available funds.
The government is targeting the money to students who already qualify for federal financial aid. The university sent emails this week to eligible students with the appropriate links for them to apply.
Graduating seniors need to respond right away, since federal regulations require that the money goes only to “current students,” according to Hae Okimoto, associate vice president for student affairs and director of academic technologies. Continuing students have more time to request the funds.
Students can use the money toward the cost of course materials and technology, food, housing, health care and child care.
On April 10, the U.S. Department of Education announced it would distribute more than $31 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to public and private institutions in Hawaii. At least half was earmarked for cash grants to help students with critical needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The University of Hawaii received individual grants for each of its 10 campuses that total roughly $12.98 million for direct aid to students. The government allotted the money based on full-time enrollment and the number of students eligible for Pell grants at each institution.
Before the CARES Act, the UH Foundation had already launched a fundraising campaign for an Urgent Student Relief Fund that raised more than $1 million for students with critical needs, according to UH President David Lassner.
The university opened that fund to applications on April 1 and by April 28 had received 3,134 applications and distributed $731,585 in funds, according to Okimoto. But there were another $1.96 million in unmet needs that could not be supported, she said.
“That shows you the magnitude of requests,” Okimoto said.
“Some students would send us a receipt for $79 saying I only need it for groceries this week,” she said in an interview. “Others would want $2,000, they need rent money and they’ve lost their part-time jobs.”
Applications and donations to that Urgent Student Relief Fund are still being accepted. UH Manoa students may also apply for CARES funding through that portal.
Okimoto urged all students to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the coming year and if they have already filed to update their applications with any changes in their financial situations.
Private higher education institutions in Hawaii that received federal CARES funding for cash grants to students include the following, in descending order of grant size:
Brigham Young University Hawaii; Hawaii Pacific University; Chaminade University; Remington College Honolulu; University of Phoenix-Hawaii; Paul Mitchell Honolulu; Hawaii Institute of Hair Design; Pacific Rim Christian University; IBS School of Cosmetology and Massage, Institute of Clinical Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and Mauna Loa Helicopters Flight School.