Grants and Scholarships For Community Causes and Students

Grants & Scholarships
Scholarship FAQs

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Every year, scholarship season is a busy one at HCF, with all the planning and preparation that goes into administering more than 300 scholarship funds. To help you understand the timing of our processes, here is a brief overview of what to expect for this upcoming scholarship season:

  • February 29, 2024, 4 p.m. Hawaiʻi Standard Time: The 2024-2025 HCF Common Scholarship Application closes. Students are encouraged to apply online early to allow ample time to gather all necessary documents and information before the deadline.
  • March 14, 2024, 4 p.m. Hawaiʻi Standard Time: Deadline for submitting letters of recommendation related to the 2024-2025 HCF Common Scholarship Application.
  • March–June 2024: HCF staff and committees begin reviewing applications based on each fund’s criteria. After final eligibility is confirmed, recommendations are made, and awardees are selected.
  • May–August 2024: Awardees are selected and notified on a rolling basis. If you are selected and notified of an award, you will need to take some additional steps to ensure we have all the information needed to prepare payment to your institution. Keep an eye on the email you use in your application!
    • We make every effort to inform students before the May 1 College Decision Day, but cannot guarantee that awards will be announced by then. Due to the extensive nature of our review and selection process, we may continue to notify students throughout the summer if funds remain or become available.
  • August 2024: Our fall semester payments are mailed to institutions for students who have completed their required steps.
  • August – September 2024: Institutions begin receiving scholarship payments.
  • December 2024: Our spring semester payments are mailed to institutions for students who have completed their required steps.


Where do I go to complete an application?

All applications are completed and processed online. Our HCF Students page is the best place to begin and check for updates on important information.  

What do I need to complete my application?

Complete your application by following the general steps below:

  1. Gather the following materials to upload to your application:
    • Get your FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS) by applying for your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Since it can take up to a few weeks to process, you will want to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible to have access to your FAFSA Submission Summary.
    • Most recent unofficial grade transcript.
    • Any short essays and/or other documents that may be required or recommended for specific scholarships. Refer to our FAQs below to learn more about these essays and documents. While some may be marked as optional within the application, we encourage you to complete all that apply to you.
  2. Log into Scholarship Manager
    • Returning Users: If you have an existing account, log in with your username and password. Do not create a new account if you forgot your login details or if your account is locked. Instead, reach out to us via email at
    • First Time Users: To get started, you’ll need to register for an account. All notifications, including award notifications, will be sent to the email you use to create your account. If you are a University of Hawaiʻi student, please use a non-UH email address such as a personal Gmail address.
  3. From the portal, locate the open application you’d like to complete. In most cases, students will complete the HCF Common Scholarship Application.
  4. Submit your application by the deadline date and time.
    • You should receive an email notification when you successfully submit your application. We highly recommend submitting your application early to avoid the increased website traffic, connectivity issues, and submission errors that can occur as the deadline nears.


What should I do if I forget my username and/or password?

Do not create a new account if you forget your login details. Access or reset them by clicking the links on the login homepage or using the shortcut link below.

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

I logged in incorrectly too many times and am now locked out of my account. Now what?

We can help to unlock your account. Send an email to

For verification purposes, the email should include your full name, the email address your account is registered under, and a brief description of how we can assist you. Or contact us via our Scholarships Hotline at (808) 566-5570, during our normal business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., HST.  

Can I change the username or email associated with my existing account?

Yes, once you successfully log in using your current account information, click on your account settings to update your username and/or email. Any future notifications from us, including award notifications, will be sent to the current email address associated with your account.  


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.
  • Maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA (unless otherwise stated)

Do I need to submit a FAFSA Submission Summary form to submit my application?

We encourage all applicants to complete the 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to obtain a 2024-2025 FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS). This will help determine your eligibility for federal student aid offered by your institution and qualify you for the many HCF scholarships that require applicants to demonstrate financial need.

Your FSS will be sent to you after your FAFSA has been processed. By December 31, 2023, you can start your 2024-2025 FAFSA, by going to  

What information needs to be on my uploaded FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS)?

Your uploaded report should be a 2024-2025 processed FSS which includes your full name and Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation.

Some examples of an FSS that will be deemed invalid are as follows: 

  • FSS does not match the academic year for which you are applying for funds
  • FSS states that there is missing or incorrect information submitted on your FAFSA that needs to be corrected or addressed
  • Name listed on your FSS does not match the name on your HCF scholarship application
  • Name and/or SAI cannot be clearly read.
  • Attached file format cannot be opened upon review by HCF and/or its committee members.

NOTE:The validity of your FSS is up to the discretion of HCF staff. Any FSS suspected of being doctored or edited will be eliminated from review and the applicant will not be considered for awards.  

What information needs to be on my uploaded grade transcript?

An official or unofficial grade transcript is needed for all applicants. A valid transcript for HCF scholarship qualification purposes must include all the following:

  • The institution’s name
  • The student’s full name
  • A list of course history
  • Current grades/information for each course:
    • Continuing College Students – must also include past semester grades/information
    • High School Seniors – must include ninth through 11th grade at a minimum (IF available, include grade 12 information)
  • Current cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Transcripts should be as recent as possible and should not be a duplicate from a prior year HCF application.

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

  • A transcript without your most recent academic history
  • A transcript on which the name listed does not match the name on your HCF application
  • A transcript that cannot be clearly read
  • A transcript that does not include all pages and/or all course work
  • A transcript in a file format that cannot be opened upon review by HCF and/or its committee members

NOTE: The validity of your transcript is up to the discretion of HCF Scholarship staff. Any transcript suspected of being doctored or edited 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 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 that does not issue grades on a graded scale, 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?

HCF has changed its approach to gathering applicant information. Although no lengthy personal statement is now required, multiple short answers and essay statements allow us to determine eligibility. These writing prompts may change annually. The writing prompts for the 2024-2025 Common Scholarship Application are as follows:

  • What inspired you to choose (your) field of study and academic plan?
  • How will your academic plans help you to give back to the community?

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 45 minutes.  

Do I need to submit letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation (LOR) are not typically required to submit your application. However, there are several scholarships that require applicants to submit one or more LOR to qualify. We encourage all applicants to request a minimum of two recommendations. To determine whether a particular scholarship requires LOR, search through our scholarships on the Scholarship Manager home page by using the filters on the Category Search Filter.  

How are Letters of Recommendation submitted with my application?

In the Letters of Recommendation section of the application, enter your recommenders’ names and email addresses. The system will immediately send an email to your recommender with a link that is specific to your application. This link will allow recommenders to either upload a previously written letter or they can complete the online recommendation form.

Once you have made your request, check in with your recommender to inform them that they will be receiving an email from Check in with them again to make sure they received the email. Many institutions and businesses put up strict firewalls to prevent unfamiliar emails from reaching an inbox. If your recommender has not seen the email yet, encourage them to check their spam or junk folder.  

Can I see if my recommender submitted their recommendation?

Yes, you can view the status of your recommendations by logging into your account. You can request and monitor recommendations for up to three people.  

Who should I ask to complete my recommendation?

When choosing a recommender, think of people who are able to speak to your academic performance, leadership capabilities, or community service involvement. This could be a previous or current academic instructor, a school counselor, a club advisor, a mentor, a coach, an employer and/or church leader, etc.

Some examples of invalid recommendations: 

  • Recommendations from parents, friends, and relatives
  • Paper or hard copies of letters sent or delivered to an HCF office
  • Recommendations in a file format that is unable to be opened 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 suspected of being forged, doctored, or edited 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 one or more previous recommender(s) and send a request to a new recommender by logging in to your account before 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 grade transcript to submit my application?

The grade transcript is the primary document needed to submit your application; however additional documents may be needed to qualify for specific scholarships.

Some examples of additional documents:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • SAT/ACT scores for high school seniors
  • Verification of organization affiliations
  • Native Hawaiian Ancestry Verification

If you do qualify for a scholarship that has an additional document requirement, a section to upload that additional document or request for additional LOR will appear within your application. We recommend you search through our scholarships to determine what additional documents may be required for those 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 suspected of being forged, doctored, or edited will be eliminated from review and the applicant will not be considered for awards.  

How do I know whether an answer, attachment, or essay is a required section to submit my application?

All questions requiring answers or attachments are marked with a red asterisk. The system will also alert you with an error message if you attempt to submit your application without completing a required answer or section. Submitting your application well in advance of the deadline will allow time to correct any missing answers.  

Do I need to answer the optional essays or short answers for every specific scholarship to submit my application?

No. You do not need to submit optional essays or short answers with your application, but they may qualify you for more scholarships.  

If I am currently attending college, do I still need to upload my ACT and/or SAT scores?

No, you do not need to attach your ACT or SAT scores if you are currently enrolled and attending college. 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?

If you don’t have a scanner, we recommend downloading a free PDF converter on your computer or mobile phone to convert documents into a PDF format. There are also online tools, including or Your school or local library may also be able to help you convert your paper documents into PDF files.  

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. All supporting documents must be uploaded into your online application before you submit.  

How much time will it take to complete the online application?

It will take approximately 2 to 3 hours to fill out the application. Your application session will time out after 45 minutes of inactivity, but will regenerate if you use the save function or move on to a new question in the application. You may save your application and return to it any time prior to the deadline.  

Is there any cost to apply for scholarships?

No. The HCF Common Scholarship Application that accesses more than 300 scholarships is free.  

Can I make changes to my application after it has been submitted?

Once your application has been submitted, the only change that can be made is to switch out your recommenders. You cannot edit any other part of your application, so review all your information carefully before submitting.


When will I be notified if I am awarded?

You may be notified any time between April and August. All notifications will be sent by email after the selection committees meet and make their final decisions.  

How will I know if I am awarded a scholarship?

An award will be posted to your student portal online, which can be viewed at any time between April and August by simply logging into your account. An email notification will also be sent to the email address registered with that account. With more than 3,000 applicants each year, the awarding process is extremely competitive and not all applicants will receive an award. However, we encourage you to apply every year.  

How will I know if I have not been awarded a scholarship?

After all funds have been awarded, we will update our site to note that the awarding season has been closed. Since students often change their academic plans during the summer, we sometimes need to re-award funds as funds continue to become available. For that reason, we will not close the season until all funds have been awarded.  

What do I do if I receive an award notification?

Once a scholarship has been awarded, there is a two-step process that needs to be completed for HCF to send your award payment to your school:

  1. Complete and submit the Student Award Acceptance Form (SAAF) to confirm your academic plans. Log into your account and accept (or decline) each award. The email notification you received, as well as the award message online, will contain a link to the SAAF. We highly recommend that you complete your SAAF within 2 weeks of receiving your award notification.

NOTE: Any changes to your original academic plans must be reflected in your SAAF, however, this may affect your final eligibility and/or award amount. Your SAAF will be verified against the requirements of the scholarship(s) you were awarded and if any changes to the awarded amount occur, we will send you an email.

  1. Write a thank you letter to the donor. Thank you notes are highly encouraged.
    Donors enjoy reading thank-you notes, and are often eager to learn more about the person who is receiving their scholarship. If you received a scholarship from a fund through HCF, you can easily complete a thank-you note online through your portal.  

If I already submitted my Student Award Acceptance Form (SAAF) but received another award after, do I need to submit another?

No. Once you have completed your SAAF, 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 SAAF but my academic plans have changed?

Contact us as soon as possible to inform us of any changes to your enrollment. If your check has not yet been processed, we will work with you to edit your SAAF as needed. However, if your award check has already been processed, send an email to us at requesting a link to make changes to your submitted SAAF. Note that any changes to your enrollment may affect your eligibility and/or delay payment to your institution.  

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 and when scholarships are awarded. If you receive an award notification and do not wish to accept your award, reach out to our office to discuss your options. If you still intend to decline your award, log into 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 the funds to another deserving student.  

What if I declined my award, but my plans have changed again?

Contact our office as soon as possible so that we can determine what your next steps will be and whether you are still eligible for your award(s).  

What will my scholarship award cover?

Scholarships 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. Every school has its own policies regarding private scholarships. Contact your financial aid office to learn more.  

When will I receive the scholarship money?

Scholarships are typically paid to your school in two equal payments: in August for the Fall semester and December for the Spring semester. The exact timing of each payment depends on different factors such as when the scholarship was accepted and if any changes have been made to your academic plan. Once awarded, you will need to submit the Student Award Acceptance Form (SAAF) to accept your award(s) and confirm which school you will be attending. You will be considered for payment after your SAAF has been submitted and verified for eligibility. Regardless of how early you complete your SAAF, payments are not sent to institutions earlier than mid-August for Fall terms, and mid-December for Spring terms.  

What if my school does not use the semester system?

Awards are still generally split between two payments. It is up to your financial aid office to determine how they will be disbursed.  

Are the scholarships awarded sufficient to pay the cost of my college education?

No. HCF scholarships are generally intended to provide partial support. In addition to applying for HCF scholarships, we recommend researching other financial aid resources such as federal grants, institutional aid, and loans/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?

Scholarship funds have varying award amounts ranging from $1,000 or less to several thousand dollars. The award will depend on the size of each scholarship fund, the number of qualified applicants, and the preferences of the donor(s). Applicants are encouraged to complete the application as thoroughly as possible (i.e., answer as many questions that are applicable, and provide essays as requested) to increase their chances of being eligible for multiple scholarship opportunities. The average award for students is approximately $6,000.


What are the recommended browser requirements?

Internet Explorer version 8 and higher; Mozilla Firefox; Google Chrome; Safari.  

Do I need to select the scholarships for which I want to apply?

No. While you can search scholarships based on eligibility criteria and necessary documentation, the option to choose and apply for specific scholarships is not available. We will automatically match your application to all scholarships for which you may be eligible once your online application is processed for committee review.  

If I receive a scholarship for one year, will I automatically receive an award for the following year?

No. Students must complete the application process each year to be considered for a scholarship award the following year. However, some scholarship funds are committed renewals and others may give preference to renewal applicants.  

My school is not listed in the institution drop-down list. How can I add it?

If your school is not listed, send an email to and include the full legal name of your school as well as their financial aid office’s mailing address. Allow up to three business days for the Education 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 Student Aid Index (SAI) based on information obtained through your FAFSA. The Cost of Attendance (COA), calculated by individual institutions, is an estimate that includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. Your institution may calculate financial need by subtracting your SAI from your COA. In other words: COA minus SAI equals Financial Need.  

How do you select scholarship recipients?

Committees made up of various community individuals and HCF staff make recommendations for awards based upon the specific purpose and criteria of each scholarship fund as established by its donor.  

How do I start or contribute to an HCF Scholarship Fund?

The cost of college is on the rise, and students need your help more than ever to achieve their goal of college completion. To contribute, contact a philanthropic advisor at or call (808) 566-5560 during our normal business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., HST.  


Where can I go to get help with my essays?

Many college campuses have a Writing Center with in-person and online appointments available. Check with your institution’s Student Services department or counselor to inquire about resources available through your school.  

What if I have questions about completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

You can reach out to the Financial Aid office of the school you will attend or go to for more information.  

Are there other scholarships available?

The HCF Common Scholarship Application is the gateway to more than 300 funds from our organization. Other local organizations and institutions each have their own separate applications and processes, so it is best to research each thoroughly. A great place to start is your school’s financial aid office or scholarship department.  


*DISCLAIMER: Please note that the additional resources linked below are not affiliated with our organization. HCF is not responsible for any content, actions, or outcomes on third-party websites. Visitors to linked third-party websites are advised to use their discretion and understand that HCF is not liable for any issues arising from accessing these external sites.

Get Schooled
Toolkit for students and families to understand and complete the FAFSA.

National College Attainment Network (NCAN)
This list of essential websites helps students choose where to go to college. It includes college planning tools and information on career exploration and workforce development.

Kamehameha Schools Resource Centers
Helpful resources from Kamehameha School Systems

University of Hawaiʻi System
A link for all University of Hawaii system schools including how to apply for college and financial aid opportunities.

University of Hawaiʻi Foundation
Scholarship information for students studying at a University of Hawaii system school.

UH Mānoa Digital Resource Library
Resources for UH Mānoa include support services for first year and transfer students.

This tool helps students search for scholarships based on their background and accomplishments.