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UH-Hilo offering financial aid to older students

HILO Hawaii

Imagine going back to college in your late 20s or even your 30s or 40s to finish an undergraduate degree. There would be homework, tests and rubbing shoulders with much younger students.

The University of Hawaii-Hilo is joining a growing list of institutions helping older students do just that through the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program.

The Bernard Osher Foundation established the program in 2005 to aid people, ideally aged 25 to 50, whose college studies at a four-year campus were interrupted by circumstances beyond their control at least five years ago and who now want to go back to school.

Such students may have left school due to financial or family problems, said Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, UH-Hilo’s director of media relations.

Under the program, the university with an enrollment of 3,608 plans to award about 25 older students scholarships of approximately $2,000 per year. In-state undergraduate tuition for the Hilo campus is $1,764 per semester, while out-of-state residents pay $5,532.

Students who are eligible for a scholarship include part-time or full-time undergraduates pursuing a first bachelor’s degree in any field of study who would have difficulty paying regular tuition and expenses.

The foundation has awarded UH-Hilo $50,000 per year for three years, with the possibility of awarding a $1 million endowed scholarship after the third year so the program can continue into the future. An endowed scholarship uses the interest generated by the endowment, which remains intact.

“The unique characteristics of UH-Hilo students, with a large number of nontraditional students, makes UH-Hilo an ideal place for this new scholarship,” said Dr. Keith Miser, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“These students often have financial need, and sometime experience circumstances that cause them to take a break from their college studies,” he said. “So this scholarship will enable the university to better meet the financial need of our students so that they can pursue their educational goals.”

The San Francisco-based foundation was founded in 1977 by businessman and community leader Bernard Osher.

Since its inception two years ago, the reentry scholarship program has awarded grants to more than 50 universities. The University of Hawaii-Manoa and the University of Hawaii-West Oahu received their grant notifications last December.

– Associated Press

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