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HILO — Big Island students are about to benefit from increased access to a college education, thanks to a groundbreaking new partnership between UH Hilo and the Dorrance Family Foundation. UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney has announced the Hawaiʻi launch of the Dorrance Scholarship Program, an innovative four-year scholarship program designed to benefit local students who are the first in their family to attend college.

Beginning in 2012, up to ten eligible students will receive need-based scholarships of $8,000/year to attend UH Hilo. Awards will be renewable for a total of eight semesters of funding, and additional cohorts of scholars will be added in subsequent years. The Dorrance Scholars will also participate in custom-designed summer programming providing academic enrichment, international travel, and employment preparation.

The new Hawaiʻi program is an extension of the highly successful Dorrance Scholarship Programs, which have operated in Arizona for the past 13 years. Administered by the Arizona Community Foundation, the programs have opened doors to higher education and boosted graduation rates for more than 400 first generation college students at Arizona’s three public universities. Recipients of the Dorrance Scholarship on the Big Island will be among the most fortunate students in Hawaiʻi—the total educational and programmatic value of each award is estimated to be more than $60,000.

UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney commented, "It is a privilege for UH Hilo to partner with the Dorrance Family Foundation in opening this visionary program to Big Island students. Expanding access to higher education and workforce development for our local high school graduates is an investment in the future of our community. We hope that every eligible high school senior will consider applying for the inaugural class of Dorrance Scholars at UH Hilo."

Mr. Art Souza, West Hawaiʻi Complex Area Superintendent for the Department of Education, stated, "I am completely in support of and excited about this wonderful opportunity for our Big Island kids. This kind of school and community partnership is exactly the kind of model we need to have in place to fully support our kids with their 21st century dreams."

Some 70% of UH Hilo’s current enrollment of 4,000+ students depend upon financial aid to fund the cost of attending university, giving UH Hilo the highest percentage of students receiving aid of any of the ten campuses in the University of Hawaiʻi System. Almost 42% of UH Hilo students, moreover, qualify for Pell grants, the federal aid which reserved for students with the highest financial need. The majority of UH Hilo students—approximately 70%--are the first in their family to attend college, way above the national average.

According to Dr. Luoluo Hong, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, "This scholarship is truly a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students. Recipients aren’t just receiving financial aid support for their college education: they are going to benefit from an entire range of programs and support services, all designed to help them be successful in college and graduate on time."

Applications for the Dorrance Scholarship are currently being accepted online at; the deadline is February 22, 2012.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Seniors in good standing who will graduate from an accredited Big Island high school
  • First-generation to attend college (neither parent holds a four-year degree)
  • Minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA
  • Verification of SAT or ACT test score
  • Admitted to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Demonstrated financial need (completed FAFSA at
  • Reside on campus freshman and sophomore year
  • Agree to participate in all aspects of the scholarship program
  • Signed Dorrance Scholar Participation Agreement
  • Meet all application related deadlines

Benefits of the Dorrance Scholarship

  • $8,000 per year
  • 8 semesters of funding
  • summer transition experience
  • conservation program
  • mainland semester
  • entrepreneurship experience
  • international travel
  • Dorrance advisor
  • cultural enrichment
  • community outreach opportunities
  • tutoring and mentoring

For more information about the Dorrance Scholarship, please contact Maria Martin, Hilo Scholarship Coordinator at or (808) 557-6343.

To learn more about how you can support UH Hilo, please contact Margaret Shiba at or (808) 933-0829. You can also make a gift online at

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About the Dorrance Scholarship Programs. In 1999 the Dorrance Family Foundation began providing scholarship support for Arizona students who have limited financial resources and who are among the first generation in their family to attend college and complete a four-year degree. More than 400 students have received a Dorrance Scholarship. In 2011 the Foundation’s Trustees approved the replication of their successful Arizona First in Family scholarship program on the Big Island of Hawai’i. The first awards will be made to Big Island high school seniors who will attend the University of Hawai’i at Hilo in 2012.

The University of Hawaiʻi Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawaiʻi System. Our mission is to unite our donors' passions with the University of Hawaiʻi's aspirations to benefit the people of Hawaiʻi and beyond. We do this by raising private philanthropic support, managing private investments and nurturing donor and alumni relationships.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is a public university with a comprehensive portfolio of distinguished undergraduate programs, complemented by select graduate and professional degrees that seek to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawaiʻi Island and state. An economic engine for the Big Island, UH Hilo generates $250 million per year in economic activity on $30 million in state funding.

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