For many minority groups, lack of funding is the biggest obstacle to obtaining a degree or pursuing postsecondary education. This is no different for Native Hawaiian students. Cornell Law School defines Native Hawaiian as “any individual any of whose ancestors were natives of the area which consists of the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.” The University of Hawaiʻi includes in their definition anyone who has a Hawaiian ancestor. Native Hawaiians make up quite a small percentage of the U.S. population – in fact, the U.S. Census Bureau often counts them along with Pacific Islanders. According to the 2020 census, approximately 690,000 people identified as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (NHPI) alone — almost 900,000 identify as NHPI in combination with another race. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs recorded the NH population to be around 607,010 in 2019. People who identify as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander alone make up 0.3% of the U.S. population.
As a minority, it’s unsurprising that Native Hawaiian students may struggle to obtain a college education. The Asian and Pacific Islander Americans Scholars 2019 report on Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Higher Education stated that at least 50% of NH students leave college without a college degree and that 53% of adults have not enrolled in postsecondary education. It also indicated that the bachelor’s attainment rate was around 20.5% for Native Hawaiians – this was below the average attainment rate of 29.1%. While the report doesn’t provide a reason for this low enrollment and graduation rate, we could point out that the high cost of attending postsecondary institutions plays a pivotal role. This high cost places higher education out of reach of minorities who often experience economic hardship due to established prejudiced social structures, and a history of colonialism and imperialism.
Scholarships are one way that organizations, universities, and even federal governments are trying to increase the number of Native Hawaiian students. The cost of college is one of the biggest barriers students face when trying to obtain a college degree, so by gaining financial assistance students can rather focus on their education and doing well. Scholaroo has gathered 65 scholarships for college-bound, undergraduate, and graduate Native Hawaiian students to help them fulfill their goal of earning a degree and overcoming the challenges many minorities face.