Students Are No Longer Coming To Paradise
By Vada Cambio, Copy Chief/News Editor
Danielle Marrufo, Photographer
It would seem that students are no longer as eager to attend college in Hawaii. Enrollment rates are declining island wide, and especially so at UH Hilo.
According to the UH Institutional Research and Analysis Office, enrollment at UH Hilo has been steadily declining for the last three years. In spring 2012 there were over 4,000 students enrolled. As of spring 2015 those numbers dropped to about 3,700 students.
This trend is continuing on neighbor islands as well. UH Manoa is also seeing quite the decline in student enrollment. They have a larger number of students enrolled, about 19,000 in 2012, but that number has decreased to about 18,000 over the last three years. It doesn’t make as much of an impact on such a large school but at UH Hilo it is definitely noticeable. Class sizes are smaller and fewer classes are being offered.
Students are no longer looking to ‘paradise’ for their college career goals. Many come only for a semester to have the chance to experience Hawaii for about 16 weeks, and then go back to their home universities to complete their degrees. Some speculate that this could be because the cost of living in Hawaii is more expensive than most other places on the mainland. Students also seem to be seeking a faster paced environment.
UH Hilo communication major, Brannon McQuillan mentioned that, “Without [my brother] Brendan I never would have known about [UH Hilo].” Are students just unaware of the little paradise that awaits them at UH Hilo? Or does it come down to the money?
Originally from Southern California, McQuillan feels that UH Hilo, “is very expensive, I got the Western Undergraduate Exchange, thank God”. So, with the WUE, McQuillan qualifies for instate tuition plus 50 percent. That coupled with the help of student loans allows for McQuillan to go to school in Hawaii.
But that isn’t the case for all students. The main reason Hawaii Community College student Chanel Fernandez doesn’t attend UH Hilo is because of the cost. “HawCC is cheaper. I have no financial aid so I can’t afford UH Hilo tuition.”
UH Hilo student Gabe Lubbess agrees that, “tuition is too expensive,” and that it’s “expensive to live on campus.”
Even with student loans and scholarships it would seem that students are having difficulties paying for school. This causes many to forgo college and go straight into the workforce to make money. Often, they don’t return to college.
With enrollment down, universities are losing money. Tuition has increased as the enrollment numbers have decreased. According to UH Hilo’s tuition schedule, tuition will continue to rise by about 300 dollars or 100 dollars per credit hour each year for the next three years until the year 2017.
Will this trend continue as the economy continues to improve, or will more students decide to pursue their college dreams in Hawaii?