Financial Aid Programs

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  1. Federal Programs
  2. State of Hawaiʻi Programs
  3. Institutional Programs
  4. Other Financial Assistance

I. Federal Programs

A. Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is a program for high need undergraduate students who have not earned a first Bachelor's degree. To qualify for a Pell Grant, you must be enrolled at least half-time. In some cases, less than half-time students may qualify. Award amounts, based on a student's EFC, are determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on congressional funding. The maximum grant for the 2013-2014 year is $5,645 for students enrolled on a full-time basis. Awards for students enrolled less than full-time will be adjusted based on enrollment status.

B. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

The Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant is for undergraduate students attending at least half-time with exceptional need. Normally, the grant is awarded to students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and who have the lowest expected family contribution (EFC). Depending on the availability of funds and a student's demonstrated need, a FSEOG award for full-time enrollment can be as much as $4,000 per year.

C. Federal Work-Study Program (FWS)

The Federal Work-study Program is used to provide part-time employment to students with financial need. Recipients must be enrolled at least half-time to participate. Students are paid at least the minimum wage and are paid twice a month. The Financial Aid Office determines earnings limits and you will be notified of this limit via the financial aid award letter.

Employment opportunities exist in most campus departments. In addition, work opportunities are available in off-campus community service sites. The Student Employment Office, located in the Career Center (Campus Center 202A), maintains a list of job openings. Please refer to Career Center web page,, for full details on securing a Student Employment Program position.

D. Federal Perkins Loan Program

The Federal Perkins Loan is a low interest (5%) loan for students with exceptional financial need. Repayment begins nine months after a student graduates, leaves school or drops below half-time enrollment. Perkins Loan recipients will complete a promissory note and entrance counseling once an award has been accepted on the financial aid award Letter. The maximum loan per year is $4,000. Note: First-time borrowers must complete an entrance counseling session before loan funds can be released. See the Loan Counseling section for additional information.

E. Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan

Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans are made to students who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled at least half-time. The Federal Government makes these loans. Students who have been awarded and accept a loan must complete additional  application materials. 

If you have been awarded a Federal Direct Stafford Loan, you must indicate the amount you would like to request when you accept your financial aid award. If this is your first loan, you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). 

Go to to complete a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN).

Federal Direct Stafford loans are normally disbursed in two equal disbursements for the loan period (one at the beginning and one at the midpoint). Funds normally arrive at the beginning of each term.

Loan funds are paid directly to your student account. If the funds create a credit balance, the excess funds will be refunded directly to you.  You will be notified when this transaction has occurred and will have 14 days to notify the Financial Aid Office if you would like to cancel all or part of the loan disbursement.

NOTE: If this is your first loan, you must complete the Entrance Counseling prior to your loan request being disbursed. See the Loan Counseling section for additional information.

On an annual basis, freshmen may borrow up to $3,500; sophomores may borrow up to $4,500; juniors and seniors may borrow up to $5,500. These loans have a fixed interest rate of 3.86% for undergraduates students. Each loan is subject to a fee that may be deducted by the lender prior to the disbursement of funds. Repayment of the loan normally begins six months after you graduate, leave school or are no longer enrolled at least half-time.

In certain situations, you may be able to defer payment of your loan. Deferments can be granted for such things as returning to in-school status, disability, and economic hardship. Deferments can only be granted by your lender who should be contacted for complete information and eligibility criteria.

F. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is available to students who may not qualify for a Subsidized Stafford Loan. This loan is not based on financial need. The Unsubsidized loan has the same basic terms and procedures as the Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan except that the interest rate is 3.86% (5.41% for graduate or professional students) and interest will start accumulating from the time that the loan is disbursed. The interest does not have to be paid while you are enrolled at least half-time but will accrue and be added to the loan principal at repayment.

Students who are undergraduates are eligible for $2000 per year.

Students classified as independent by the U.S. Department of Education are eligible to receive additional funds through the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program. At the freshmen and sophomore levels, students are eligible for an additional $4,000 per year. At the junior and senior levels, students may be eligible for an additional $5,000 per year. Graduate students may borrow up to an additional $12,000 (if the cost of attendance permits).

G. Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (FPLUS)

The Federal Direct PLUS Loans are made to parents who want to help pay for their dependent children’s education. The amount that a parent can borrow will be determined by the cost of attendance per child minus any other financial aid. All FPLUS applicants are subject to a credit check for approval. This loan has a fixed interest rate of 6.41%. Repayment begins 60 days after the last disbursement of the loan is made.  

Graduate students are also eligible for FPLUS loans.

H. TEACH Grant Program

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 created the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program that provides up to $4,000 per year in grants for graduate and undergraduate students to students who intend to teach full-time in high-need subject areas for at least four years at schools that serve students from low-income families. Graduate students are also eligible for $ 4,000 per year ($ 8,000 total). Students may receive up to $16,000 for undergraduate study and up to $ 8,000 for graduate study. Part-time students are eligible, but the maximum grant will be reduced. The grant is also available for post-baccalaureate teacher certification coursework.

If you fail to complete the four-year teaching obligation you will have to repay the grant with interest!

Effective Dates

The first TEACH Grants will be awarded to eligible students for the 2009-10 school year.

Student Eligibility Requirements

To receive a TEACH Grant you must:

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),  although you do not have to demonstrate financial need.
  •  Meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid.
  • Be enrolled in a program of study designated as TEACH Grant-eligible. Eligible programs are those that prepare a student to teach in a high-need area.
  • Meet one of the following academic achievement requirements
    • Score above the 75th percentile on a college admissions test (e.g. SAT, ACT, GRE, or
    • Graduate from high school with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) to receive a grant as a freshman, or
    • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) on your college coursework to receive a grant for each subsequent term.
  • Complete TEACH Grant counseling
  • Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve and respond to requests by the U.S. Department of Education confirming your continuing intention to meet the teaching obligation.

TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve and Promise to Pay

Each year you receive a TEACH Grant, you must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve and Promise to Pay (service agreement) that will be available electronically on a Department of Education Web site. The TEACH Grant service agreement specifies the conditions under which the grant will be awarded, the teaching service requirements, and includes an acknowledgment by you that you understand that if you do not meet the teaching service requirements you must repay the grant as a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, with interest accrued from the date the grant funds were first disbursed.

Teaching Obligation

To avoid repaying the TEACH Grant with interest you must be a highly-qualified, full-time teacher in a high-need subject area for at least four years at a school serving low-income students. You must complete the four years of teaching within eight years of finishing the program for which you received the grant. You incur a four-year teaching obligation for each educational program for which you received TEACH Grant funds, although you may work off multiple four-year obligations simultaneously under certain circumstances. Specific definitions of these terms are included below.

Highly-Qualified Teacher

You must perform the teaching service as a highly-qualified teacher, which is defined in federal law. The definition can be found online at:

Full-Time Teacher

You must meet the state’s definition of a full time teacher and spend the majority (at least 51 percent) of your time teaching one of the high-need subject areas. Elementary teachers who teach many subjects would not be able to fulfill their service agreement.

High-Need Subject Areas

  • Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition
  • Foreign Language
  • Mathematics
  • Reading Specialist
  • Science
  • Special Education
  • Other teacher shortage areas listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing at

Schools Serving Low-Income Students

Schools serving low-income students include any elementary or secondary school that is listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits at


You must respond promptly to any requests for information or documentation from the U.S. Department of Education, even if they seem repetitive. These requests will be sent to you while you are still in school as well as once you are out of school. You will be asked regularly to confirm that you either still intend to teach or that you are teaching as required. You must provide documentation to the U.S. Department of Education at the end of each year of teaching.

If you temporarily cease enrollment in your program of study or if you encounter situations that affect your ability to begin or continue teaching, you will need to stay in touch with the U.S. Department of Education to avoid your grants being converted to loans before you are able to complete your teaching obligation.

Important Reminder

Failure to complete the teaching obligation, respond to requests for information, or properly document your teaching service will cause the TEACH Grant to be permanently converted to a loan with interest.

Once a grant is converted to a loan it can’t be converted back to a grant!

II. State of Hawaiʻi Programs

A. Hawaiʻi State Need-Based Opportunity Grant

Recipients must be bona fide residents of Hawaii. The awards are for students with financial need who are enrolled at least half-time. The award amount can be up to the cost of tuition at UH Hilo only.

B. Hawaiʻi State Merit-Based Achievement Scholarships

These scholarships are available to resident and non-resident students who merit assistance because of their achievement and/or service to UH Hilo. The award may cover up to the cost of tuition.

C. Hawaiʻi Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program (LEAP)

This program provides tuition grants to bona fide Hawaiʻi residents with financial need. Recipients must also be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.

D. State Higher Education Loan (SHEL)

Loan funds are available to qualified bona fide Hawaiʻi residents who demonstrate financial need. Students may borrow up to $4,000 annually, up to $8,000 aggregate for the first two years of undergraduate work and up to $20,000 aggregate for a bachelor's degree. The interest rate is a fixed 5% with repayment beginning 9 months after a student ceases to attend at least half-time. Loans are repaid in monthly installments over a ten-year period. Recipients must complete a promissory note which will be mailed after the loan has been accepted on the Financial Aid Award Letter. Note: First-time borrowers must complete an entrance counseling session before loan funds can be released. See the Loan Counseling section for additional information.

E. Hawaiʻi B Plus Scholarship Program

Grant funds are available to 2006 - 2011 graduates of public Hawaiʻi high schools who have a 3.00 or higher high school grade point average and have completed three years of high school math. Students must be enrolled full-time to be eligible.

F. Second Century Scholars Program

Grant funds are available to Undergraduate, Graduate or Professional students with Native Hawaiian Ancestry, priority to residents of Hawaii. The awards are for students with financial need who are enrolled at least half-time. As a recipient of the scholarship, you may be selected to verify your Hawaiian ancestry. If selected, you will need to provide evidence of Hawaiian ancestry (birth certificates, ancestry certification, etc.).

III. Institutional Programs

A. Scholarships

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo awards a number of academic merit scholarships. The purpose of the scholarship program is to recognize students who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance and to encourage those students who show academic potential and a willingness to participate in community activities. The scholarship awards imply the expectation of continued exceptional performance and leadership by the recipients in the years ahead. These awards are competitive. Normally, recipients must be enrolled full-time and demonstrate financial need. You may apply for scholarships at

B. Athletic Scholarships

The various team coaches in the Athletic Department determine these awards.

C. Pacific Islander Scholarship

Effective with the Fall 2007 semester, UH Hilo has established a Pacific Islander Scholarship.  To be eligible for this scholarship, students must:

  • be accepted by the UH Hilo Admissions Office with a residency status of Pacific Islander Non-Resident Exempt. The residency status is reflected on the acceptance letter issued by the Admissions Office.
  • demonstrate financial need.  Financial need is demonstrated by applying for financial aid, using the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). And
  • be a new student entering UH Hilo in Fall 2007 or later, or returning to UH Hilo in Fall 2007 or later after taking a break from enrollment at UH Hilo.
  • enroll as a classified student in either an undergraduate, graduate or post-baccalaureate program.
  • enroll at least half-time (6 or more credits per semester).

The maximum amount of the scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year is $2,940.  (This amount is the difference between 150% of the resident tuition rate and the resident tuiton rate for a full-time student.)  Students do not need to submit an application form; eligible students will be automatically considered for this scholarship. 

D. Western Undergraduate Exchange Program

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo participates in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), a program of the Western Inter-state Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and other western states. Through WUE, students in western states may enroll at UH Hilo at a reduced tuition of 150 percent of the institution's regular resident tuition. Log onto the WUE site at for more information.

E. The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Regular Student Employment Program

UHH provides additional employment opportunities for students to meet their college expenses. This program is for those students who do not have a demonstrated financial need but who have an interest in working on-campus. The Student Employment Office maintains a list of job openings.

IV. Other Financial Aid

A. Veterans Assistance

All programs available to veterans/children of veterans are administered through the Records Office. If you are eligible for assistance through these programs, please contact the Records Office. Questions concerning eligibility may be directed to the Veterans Administration by calling 1-888-GIBILL1.

B. Outside Scholarships

If you are receiving an outside scholarship, you are required to notify the Financial Aid Office. Scholarships will first be used to reduce any unmet need and/or any need-based work/loans in the financial aid award. If necessary grant awards may also be adjusted.