According to BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe, the recent scholarship changes have already had a positive impact by increasing the number of work-study opportunities. Students seeking financial assistance can look forward to the Dean’s List scholarship, apply to other existing scholarships and programs or speak to Dean of Students James Faustino for further help.
BYUH Advancement Vice President Laura Tevaga gave insights into why the merit scholarship was discontinued and other existing opportunities available for financial aid through the university.
Why was the merit scholarship discontinued?
Tevaga said, “The main goal was to use financial aid resources to support students who have financial need. The main mechanism for needs-based support is through the international and domestic work-study programs."
Does the school not have enough money for the scholarships?
Tevaga said, “There has been no reduction in the overall funds available. Merit scholarships in individual departments [example: Eric B. Shumway scholarship for the English program] remain unchanged in total amounts and in award amounts.”
Positive impact on work-study programs
Jerius Gutierrez, a junior from the Philippines majoring in TESOL and anthropology, said his biggest concern was how the money would be used if not for the merit scholarship. But he said, “If they’re doing it for the right purpose: to fulfill the University’s mission and vision. ... I will support it 100 percent. I always support President Kauwe. ... I trust him with everything he says and does in this University.”
President Kauwe said the change will help shorten the wait time for students who want to participate in work-study programs. “We are already seeing the impact of this change-this spring we will have more work-study students than we have ever had, over 1,000 students. “
In the past, students with financial need have waited several semesters for work-study funding to be available for them to start school. This spring, no one is waiting extra semesters for availability of work-study funding. They will be able to start right away.”
Dean's List Scholarship to replace Merit Scholarship
The BYU–Hawaii News website states, “The Dean’s List Scholarship will replace the University Merit Scholarship. “Each semester, any student who achieves a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher will be placed on the dean’s list and considered for a $500 scholarship for the subsequent semester.”
Extension of David O. Mckay Scholarship
The David O. Mckay Scholarship, which includes “half or full-tuition” will now be offered for one full year rather than one semester, according to a BYU–Hawaii news article.
The Ho‘okele Admission page says to qualify for the David O. McKay Scholarship, or David O. McKay Recruitment Award, students must be:
• “An admitted new freshman or first-time transfer student seeking an undergraduate degree.”
•“Enroll[ed] and complete[ed] at least 14 credit hours in each semester.”
According to the site, “Former BYUH students and IWORK students are not eligible” for this scholarship. Check out the Ho‘okele David O. McKay Recruitment Award page for more information.
Pacific Area Scholars (PAS) Program to include travel stipend
The Ho‘okele Financial Aid & Scholarships page says the Pacific Area Scholarship (PAS) Program is “the most coveted and prestigious scholarship at BYU–Hawaii. Being admitted to this program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as only a few candidates are selected.”
This scholarship covers tuition, room and board, books and now a travel stipend for all four years, according to the Ho‘okele page and a BYU–Hawaii news page announcement. Those who are currently eligible to receive this scholarship, states the Ho‘okele page, are “only students from church schools in the Pacific area” and must be in the “top 5-10% of students from their respective church school.”
For more information on the PAS program, see the Ho‘okele PAS page.
Minimal changes to IWORK
The BYU–Hawaii News announcement page states, “There are no changes in requirements or eligibility for the IWORK program for the upcoming Fall 2022 Semester,” but the university is expecting to increase the number of IWORK students by 250 come Fall 2022.
Hukilau Domestic Work/Study program
This work/study program is currently being offered to candidates of various backgrounds and talents, according to the Financial Aid & Scholarship website.
The work/study program covers:
• All University tuition
• Class fees (only those pertaining to the student’s major)
• Student Medical Benefit
• Room and board in excess of the student’s semester contribution
To qualify for this program, the Hukilau Domestic Work/Study website says candidates must complete the following:
• “A besmart.com application”
• “An application for the Hukilau Work/Study Scholarship Program”
Student's thoughts and reactions to the changes
Gutierrez said he thinks taking away the merit scholarship will result in students focusing more on learning and less on getting a good grade to qualify for the scholarship. He said he knows students who take easy classes that don’t challenge them because they need the letter grade in order to qualify for the merit scholarship.
John Zenger, a junior from Idaho majoring in music and intercultural peacebuilding, said he was “sad and a little confused” when he first learned about the changes to the merit scholarship. However, he said, “after thinking about it a while,” he understood and supported the decision.
Although he said he wishes the school had kept the scholarship for those who were under the impression they could receive it upon acceptance to the university.
“I want people to know this isn’t about them. If you work hard, in most cases, you can pay for school. [BYUH] is still incredibly cheap with no scholarships.
“You are not lucky to be here. You are blessed to be here. Honor the institution and the culture.”
Fahina Lauti, from California and a junior political science major, said she was initially “shocked” and “confused” when hearing about the merit scholarship changes because she was worried about herself and others who rely on the scholarship to attend the school.
Lauti, who is Tongan American, said BYUH is “the perfect place to connect with [her] cultural roots,” but without the assistance of the merit scholarship, it will be much more difficult for herself and others to attend the university who also come from the mainland and are of Pacific Island descent.
Douglas Madruga, a senior from Brazil majoring in business, also said he feels the scholarship changes should have only been implemented for new incoming students. He said he understands how hard it must be for the university to give scholarships to everyone and to represent everyone.
However, he said since the targeted areas already have the IWORK program, he feels the University did not think about other international students when making these changes. He said he feels forgotten about.
In response to students feeling forgotten about and underrepresented by these changes, Tevaga said, “These students should follow the instructions in the announcement and apply to IWORK if they have financial need.
"Current international students will be considered based on financial need regardless of the country of origin of their application."
Despite Tevaga’s direction, Madruga said he was concerned about his eligibility for any of the scholarships. He said he sat down with employees at the Financial Aid office, and they told him he could apply for all of the scholarships, but it was unlikely he would get any of them.
Without as much access to scholarships, international students can not afford to live here with only a $10 an hour job, 19 hours a week, said Madruga. He said students from the mainland can get higher paying jobs and work longer hours off campus, but students from other countries are at a disadvantage only being able to work on campus or at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Tevaga said if students face financial need, come Fall 2022, they “will be asked to apply for the IWORK or the Hukilau Program. If a student is not selected for a work-study program, they may appeal to the dean of students for consideration of other means of financial aid.”