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Putting Faces to Financial Aid

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Photo by Colleen Uechi.

Applying for financial aid can be a daunting process, said Kelley Dudoit of the University of Hawaii Maui College, Molokai (UHMCM). That’s why the college is trying to make the process as personable as possible. Last Friday, representatives from 28 different organizations gathered at UHMCM to help students discover available financial aid both on and off island.

“A lot of times students are wary or scared about applying for financial aid,” said Dudoit, Institutional Support at UHMCM. “So we thought that if we brought faces to Molokai … that maybe that would make [students] a little more comfortable with the whole financial aid process.”

UHMCM’s third annual Financial Aid Kick-off was geared toward current and prospective students, including high school seniors as well as adults. Colleges such as UH Manoa came with scholarship information, but students could also find financial aid opportunities from organizations like The MOM Hui and the Women’s Health Center at Molokai General Hospital.

“A lot of people don’t know that there’s a lot of on-island resources that they can take advantage of,” said UHMCM Educational Specialist Nahiwa Naki.

Molokai High School senior Jenilyn Agliam, who hopes to study business at UH Hilo, said that through the fair she found out she was eligible for several local scholarships.

“The biggest concern on Molokai is that we export our talented youth,” said Dawn Bicoy, Community Affairs Manager for Monsanto. Bicoy said she hopes scholarships from local organizations will allow students to pursue the education they need and later invest their skills back home.

“It’s a good circle for any island to have, particularly for this one where the economy is so fragile,” she added.

Organizations also came prepared to help students with futures beyond college. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has internships that could lead to careers with OHA, and a UHMC representative from Kahului said the college offers help with resumes and mock job interviews. The Women’s Health Center also encourages students to create 10-year plans to see how potentially starting a family fits in with their goals.

Students also had help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which would make them eligible for aid from the government.

“I think the overall message is that it really is possible for anybody to attend college,” said Dudoit. “We just want the Molokai residents to realize that.”

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