Grants and Scholarships For Community Causes and Students

Grants & Scholarships
Scholarship FAQs

Header Logo Icon orange

Our 2017-2018 Applications will open on November 15, 2016,
and will close on January 31, 2017 at 4:00 PM Hawaii Standard Time (HST).

HOW TO APPLY

  1. All applications are processed online.
  2. Here is a checklist of steps for completing your online application (A-D).
    1. Login to our Scholarship Manager
      • Returning Users:
        If you already have an existing account, log in with your username and password entered when you first created your account. DO NOT create a new account if you forgot your username and/or password, or are locked out. Instead, please refer to the instructions in the related FAQ’s below.
      • First Time Users:
        Register for an account. Keep in mind that the email you use to create your account will be the email where all notices will be sent, including award notifications.
    2. Complete the required Personal Statements: Part I and Part II, within the Common Application.
      1. Personal Statement: Part I asks you to answer the following questions in 900 words or less:
        • What are your reasons for attending college?
        • Why did you choose your course of study?
        • What are your career goals?
      2. Personal Statement: Part II asks “How do you plan to give back to Hawaii?” and should be answered in 600 words or less.
    3. Gather the following required materials to upload to your application:
      • Get your Student Aid Report (SAR) by applying for your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). According to the FAFSA website, “typically, you will be able to access your SAR within two weeks of filing your FAFSA.”
      • Most Recent Grade Transcript as printed and issued by your school’s registrar’s office. For continuing college students, your current year’s fall semester grades and information must be included. Check with your school’s registrar’s office for processing time to ensure you are able to upload your transcript to your HCF application before the deadline.
      • Short essays and/or other documents may be required for specific scholarships.  Refer to our FAQ’s below to find out more about these optional essays and documents. While these uploads are marked as optional within the application, we encourage you to complete all that may be applicable to you.
    4. Submit your application by the deadline date and time.
      • For your records, you will receive an email notification from the webmaster when you successfully submit your application.We highly recommend you submit your application early as website traffic increases around that deadline time, causing users to experience connectivity problems and submission errors.For more information on the above, continue to read through all of our FAQ’s.

ACCOUNT INFORMATION

What should I do if I forgot my User Name and/or Password?
Do not create another account if you have forgotten your user name or password associated with your existing account. Forgotten usernames and passwords can be accessed or reset accordingly by clicking on the links on the login homepage. Or click on the appropriate shortcut link below:

In both instances, you will be required to submit your email address registered with your account.

I logged in incorrectly too many times and am now locked out of my account.
We can help to unlock your account by sending us an email to scholarships@hcf-hawaii.org. For verification purposes, the email should include your full name, email address your account is registered under, along with a brief description of how we can assist you. Or you may contact us via our Scholarships Hotline at (808) 566-5570, during our normal business hours: Monday-Friday, 8am -5pm.

Can I change my username or email associated with my existing account?
Yes, once you successfully login using your current account information, you may click on your account settings to update your username and/or email associated with your account. Again, any notifications from us, including award notifications, will be sent to your email address associated with that account.

APPLICATION DETAILS

What are the basic eligibility criteria?
Each scholarship has specific eligibility criteria defined by the donor when the fund is established. General criteria that apply to most scholarships include:

  • Be a resident of the State of Hawai‘i
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Attend an accredited two or four year not for profit institution within the United States as either an undergraduate or graduate student
  • Be a full-time student as determined by your institution
  • Maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA (unless otherwise stated)

How do I obtain my Student Aid Report (SAR)?
Your SAR will be sent to you after your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been processed. Beginning October 1st, you can start your FAFSA for the following academic year, by going to https://fafsa.ed.gov. For more information regarding the FAFSA process, please visit the FAFSA Help website at https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm.

What information needs to be on my uploaded Student Aid Report (SAR)?
Your uploaded SAR must include ALL pages of your processed report, including your full name and Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) number for that Common Application year (i.e. if you are applying for the 2017-18 Common Application, you must submit your 2017-18 SAR). Click here to see a sample SAR.

Some examples of SAR’s that will be deemed invalid are as follows:

  • FAFSA Summary Report (the report you receive immediately upon submitting your FAFSA)
  • SAR does not match the academic year of which you are applying
  • SAR states that there is missing or incorrect information submitted on your FAFSA which needs to be corrected or addressed
  • Name listed on your SAR does not match the name on your HCF scholarship application
  • Name and/or EFC cannot be clearly read.
  • SAR does not include all pages
  • Attached file format cannot be opened upon review by HCF and/or its decision committee members.

NOTE: The validity of your SAR is up to the discretion of HCF’s Scholarship staff. Any SAR’s under suspicion of doctoring or editing will be eliminated from review and the applicant will not be considered for awards.

What information needs to be on my uploaded Grade Transcript?
You must upload your most recent grade transcript printed and issued by your school’s Registrar’s office. Your grade transcript should include the following:

  • Institution name and logo
  • Student’s full name
  • Course history
  • Grades for each course (or pass/fail results) as follows:
    • Continuing College Students - Fall semester grades and information must be included in your transcript.
    • High School Seniors - Your Junior year grades or higher must be included in your transcript.
  • Current cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)

Some examples of grade transcripts which will be deemed invalid are as follows:

  • Online transcripts or grade reports; HCF WILL NOT accept transcripts printed through an online student/school portal such as the University of Hawaii STAR system. Again, all transcripts must be printed and issued by your registrar’s office.
  • Grade Transcript does not have your most recent academic history
  • Name on your Grade Transcript does not match the name on your HCF application
  • Grade Transcript cannot be clearly read
  • Grade Transcript does not include all pages
  • Attached file format cannot be opened upon review by HCF and/or its decision committee members.

NOTE: The validity of your Grade Transcript is up to the discretion of HCF’s Scholarship staff. Any transcript under suspicion of doctoring or editing will be eliminated from review and the applicant will not be considered for awards.

What cumulative GPA do I use if I have a GED or am in a pass/fail graduate program?
If you have a GED or equivalent, enter “8.88” into the cumulative GPA question in the application. If you are in a pass/fail program which does not issue grades on a graded scale, please enter “9.99” into the cumulative GPA box. These instructions are also listed in the application.

What should I include in my required Personal Statements?
There are specific questions asked in both Part I and Part II of the Personal Statement section.  While you are not limited to answering these questions, at minimum they must be addressed in your essays, and should adhere to the maximum word count.

  1. Personal Statement: Part I asks you to answer the following questions in 900 words or less:
    • What are your reasons for attending college?
    • Why did you choose your course of study?
    • What are your career goals?
  2. Personal Statement: Part II asks “How do you plan to give back to Hawai’i?” and should be answered in 600 words or less.

    We encourage you to include personal stories or examples in these essays which can support your answers to the required questions and give the reader a good sense of who you are.  We also suggest you proof read your essays for any grammatical or spelling errors. Keep in mind that not only is the HCF staff reviewing your essays, but also the award decision makers, as well as donors who establish these scholarships.

Tip: Compose your essays in a Word document (or equivalent) and then copy and paste it into your application to avoid the system timing out after thirty (30) minutes.

Do I need to submit Letters of Recommendation (LOR)?
No, however there are a number of scholarships which require applicants to submit one or more LOR. Therefore, to be considered for the most amount of scholarships, we highly encourage you to request at least two (2) LOR.  To determine whether a particular scholarship requires a LOR, please search through our scholarships on the Scholarship Manager home page.

How are Letters of Recommendation submitted with my application?
In the Letter of Recommendation (LOR) section of the application, enter your recommenders’ name and email address. Our system will immediately generate an email informing your recommender of your request with a link to an online form to be completed and submitted.  You have the ability to request and monitor recommendations from up to three different people. All LORs must be submitted by the application deadline in order for it to be considered part of your application.We suggest you contact your potential recommender(s) prior to sending the request to confirm their participation, as well as their availability to submit their LOR by the application deadline.

Once you have chosen your recommender(s), inform them that they will be receiving an email from notify@ngwebsolutions.com. This is the source that sends out the request when you enter your recommender(s) email address on your scholarship application.  Also, inform your recommender(s) to check their spam/junk mail folder periodically for emails from this source.The recommender should be able to address your academic performance, leadership capabilities, or community service involvement.

At any time, you may view the status of your recommendations by logging into your account. You will also have the ability to send reminder emails if needed by clicking on the Send Reminder E-mail button next to your recommender's data.

Some examples of suggested recommenders are:

  • Your previous or current academic instructor, school counselor, club advisor, coach, employer and/or church leader.

Some examples of invalid Letters of Recommendation are as follows:

  • Letters from parents, friends, and relatives
  • Paper or hard copies of letters sent or delivered to HCF
  • Attached file format is unable to be opened upon review by HCF staff or decision makers

NOTE: The validity of a submitted letter of recommendation is up to the discretion of HCF’s Scholarship staff. Any letters under suspicion of forgery, doctoring, or editing will be eliminated from review and the applicant will not be considered for awards.

Can I change my recommender after an initial request has been sent?
Yes, you may withdraw a request to a previous recommender(s), and send a request to a new recommender by logging in to your account prior to the application deadline. Click on the withdraw option next to your recommender's data, then enter your new recommender’s information.

Do I need to attach any other document(s) besides my SAR and Grade Transcript in order to submit my application?
No documents, besides the SAR and Grade Transcript, are required to submit your application, however additional documents may be needed to qualify for specific scholarships.  Examples of additional documents may include: letters of recommendation, birth certificates, SAT/ACT scores for high school seniors, verification of organization affiliations, etc.  If you do qualify for a scholarship which has an additional document requirement, a section to upload (or request for LOR’s) that additional document will appear within your application.  We recommend you search through our scholarships to determine what additional documents may be required for those particular opportunities.  All additional documents must be uploaded and submitted with your online application. We will not accept hard or email copies of any documents.

NOTE: The validity of any documentation submitted is up to the discretion of HCF’s Scholarship staff. Any documents under suspicion of forgery, doctoring, or editing will be eliminated from review and the applicant will not be considered for awards.

Do I need to answer the additional essays or short answers in order to submit my application?
No. Short essays and/or answers may be required for specific scholarships, but are not required to submit your application. Please use the Search Scholarships feature on the application homepage to determine if an additional essay(s) may be required to be eligible for a specific scholarship.

How do I know whether an answer, attachment, or essay is a required section in order to submit my application?
All required answers or attachments are indicated with a red asterisk next to that section or question.  In addition to this, the system will prompt you with an error message if you try to submit your application without filling out a required answer or section. Thus, you should carefully review your application prior to submission, as well as submitting your application in advance of the deadline to correct any missing required answers.

If I am currently in college, do I still need to upload my ACT and/or SAT scores?
No. If you are currently enrolled and attending college, you do not need to attach your ACT or SAT scores.  This is an optional document for current high school seniors only.

What if I don’t have a scanner to scan and upload my support documents?
You may want to seek assistance from a relative, friend, working professional or counselor who may have access to a scanner. You can also visit copy centers, such as Kinko’s, which can assist you for a small fee. We highly recommend that you format your files format into a PDF form before attaching them to your application. You may want to download a free PDF converter on your computer to convert documents into a PDF format. Recommended websites are www.freepdfconvert.com or www.pdfonline.com/convert-pdf.

How can I upload or attach multiple pages to my application?
You can create and upload a zip folder by right-clicking a blank area on the desktop or in an open folder. Then point to New and click Compressed (zipped) Folder and drag your files into the zip folder. Upload the zip folder onto the application.

Can I mail my supporting documents?
No. Everything must be submitted online. We recommend that you start early gather the necessary tax documents to fill out the FAFSA when it becomes available, and request a copy of your transcript from your registrar’s office once your applicable semester is completed.  Online applications can only be submitted once all required support documents have been uploaded.

How much time will it take to complete the online application?
It will take approximately 2-3 hours to fill out the application. Your application session will time out after 30 minutes of inactivity, but will regenerate if you use the save function. You may save your application and return to it at any time prior to the deadline date.

Is there any cost to apply for any scholarships?
No, the HCF application that accesses 200+ scholarships is a free application.

Can I make changes to my application after it has been submitted?
Once your application has been submitted, the only changes that can be made is to your recommenders. You cannot edit any other part of your application, so you should review all your information before submitting.

AWARD INFORMATION

When will I be notified of my award status?
You will be notified online after the selection committees meet, which may be any time between April and July.

How will I know if I am awarded a scholarship?
An award will be posted to a student’s account online, which can be viewed at any time between April and July by simply logging into his/her account.  A courtesy email notification will also be sent to the email address registered with that account.With over 3,000 applicants each year, the awarding process is extremely competitive and not all applicants may receive an award, however we encourage you to apply every year.

What do I do if I received an award notification?
Once awarded, there is a two-step process that needs to be completed in order for HCF to send your award payment to your school:

  1. Login to your account and accept (or decline) each award.  To do so, click on the Award Information tab on your student home page and select the Accept button next to the scholarship(s) listed.
  2. Complete and submit the Student Enrollment Form (SEF) to confirm your academic plans.  The email notification you received, as well as the award message online, will contain a link to the SEF. We highly recommend that you complete your SEF within 2 weeks of receiving your award notification.NOTE: Any changes to your original academic plans must be reflected in your SEF, however this may affect your final eligibility and/or award amount. Your SEF will be verified against the requirements of the scholarship(s) you were awarded and if any changes to the awarded amount occurs, we will send you an email.
  3. (Optional): Write a Thank You letter to the donor. Thank you notes are highly encouraged but not required. Donors enjoy reading thank you notes and they would like to know something about the person who is receiving their scholarship. If you were fortunate to have received a scholarship from a fund through Hawaii Community Foundation, address a thank you note to "Scholarship Committee" and mail it to: Hawaii Community Foundation - Scholarships 827 Fort Street Mall Honolulu, HI 96813

If I already filled out my SEF but receive another award after, do I need to do another SEF?
No. Once you have completed your SEF, the answers you submitted on the form will be applied to all awards you receive within the same academic year.

What if I already submitted my SEF but my academic plans have changed?
Contact us as soon as possible to inform us of any changes to your SEF. If your check has not been processed, we will work with you to edit your SEF as applicable. However, if your award check has already been processed, please send an email to us at scholarships@hcf-hawaii.org with the following information:

  • Your full name
  • The change to be made to your SEF (e.g. enrolling in a different school, change of part-time or full-time status, or change of major)
  • Reason for the changeAny changes to your SEF may cause a delay in reissuing you a new award payment, or it may eliminate you from being eligible for your awards altogether based on the scholarship criteria.

What if I do not want to accept my award or I will not be attending school for the awarded academic year?
We understand that circumstances may change between the time you submit your application to when our awarding begins. If you receive an award notification and do not wish to accept your award, please login to your account and click the Decline award option.  We ask that you do this as soon as possible as this may allow us to award another deserving student.

What will my scholarship award cover?
The scholarship can be used for any educational expenses related to your school’s cost of attendance, which may include tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other miscellaneous school expenses for the awarded academic year.

If I receive a scholarship one year, will I automatically receive an award for the following year?
No, students must complete the application process again in order to be considered for a scholarship award the following year. Some scholarship funds are committed renewals and others may give preference to renewal applicants.

When will I receive the scholarship money?
You will receive your award after you have accepted your award online and your completed Student Enrollment Form has been submitted and verified.  Scholarships are paid to the school you are attending, usually in two payments, one in August for the fall semester and one in December for the spring semester.  Once awarded, we need you to accept each award and submit the Student Enrollment Form to let us know which school you will attend in the fall.

Are the scholarships awarded sufficient to pay the cost of my college education?
No. These scholarships are intended to provide only partial support. In addition to applying for scholarships through the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, you should look into other financial aid resources such as federal grants, loans and work-study awards. A complete financial aid package can be put together by your college's financial aid office and may include various types of financial aid.

How much will I receive in scholarships from HCF?
HCF Scholarship funds offers varying award amounts, which generally range from $1,000 to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of each scholarship fund, the number of qualified applicants and directions given by the donor(s). Applicants are encouraged to complete the application as thoroughly as possible (i.e. answer as many questions that are applicable, provide essays as requested) in order to increase their chances of being eligible for multiple scholarship opportunities. The average award for students is approximately $2,500.

GENERAL FAQ’S

What are the recommended browser requirements?
Internet Explorer version 8 and higher; Mozilla Firefox; Google Chrome. Apple users who use Safari may experience technical issues.

Do I need to select the scholarships for which I want to apply?
No. We will automatically match your application to all the scholarships for which you may be eligible once your online application is processed for committee review. Remember, some scholarships require answers to additional questions or documentation so be sure to complete the entire application to increase your chances of eligibility for as many scholarships as possible. You may search scholarships for specific eligibility criteria and required documentation, but will not be able to select specific scholarships to apply for.

My school is not listed in the institution drop down list. How can I add it?
If your school is not listed, please send an email to scholarships@hcf-hawaii.org and include the full legal name of your school as well as their mailing address. Allow up to three (3) business days for the Scholarship team to respond and process your request.

I have a double major. Can I add a second major to my scholarship application?
No. The HCF application allows you to select only one major. Take the time to review the available scholarships for both majors using the Category Search function to determine which scholarships would be most beneficial to your selected major.

How is my financial aid determined and who is responsible for making that determination?
The federal government determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on information obtained through your FAFSA. The Cost of Attendance (COA), calculated by individual institutions, is an estimate which includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses. HCF calculate financial need by subtracting your EFC from your COA. In other words: COA minus EFC equals Financial Need.

How do you select scholarship recipients?
Committees made up of various community individuals makes recommendations for awarding based upon the specific purpose and criteria of each scholarship fund as established by its donor.

How do I start or contribute to a HCF Scholarship Fund?
The cost of college is on the rise, and students need our help more than ever to achieve their goal of college completion. Please visit our Supporting Hawaii’s College Students webpage, or contact us directly at (808) 537-6333, or at give@hawaiicommunityfoundation.org.