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Hawaii Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018
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Choosing an online program requires careful research. After all, it’s a decision that will likely affect a student in both the short-term academically and the long-term as they pursue a new career. One common concern students have is how to keep tuition costs down. Current residency, financial aid eligibility, and scholarship opportunities all play a role in making college affordable. Other students wonder what specific factors cause an online college in Hawaii to stand out from the competition, whether it’s a great reputation, a top-notch faculty, or something else. By reading this page, students can explore the answers to their own questions about finding an online college in Hawaii, so they have the information necessary to select the ideal online college for their personal set of circumstances.

Best Online Colleges in Hawaii: 2018

There sure is a lot to ponder when picking a college. If finding a school with the highest quality academic program is your biggest concern, then searching for the best accredited online colleges in Hawaii can be a fantastic start. If on the other hand, saving money captures your attention, you may be better off starting a search for the best affordable online colleges in Hawaii. No matter what you want to know about online colleges in Hawaii, the ranking below will help by giving you a comprehensive look at what they offer based on various metrics and methodologies. Check out our list of the “Best” online colleges in Hawaii for 2017–2018 to discover which match your individual educational and career aspirations.

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

  • *PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, HI 100.00 $20,810 17 98% 11:138%yes yes yes
2 Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, HI 98.91 $20,930 15 89% 13:140%yes yes yes
3 University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu, HI 97.15 $9,840 11 49% 13:157%no yes yes
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Leeward Community College Pearl City, HI 100.00 $2,736 4 36% 23:1N/Ayes yes yes

Growing Online College Options in Hawaii

A higher than average cost of living has helped spur the popularity of distance learning at colleges and universities in the state of Hawaii. Over the past decade, schools have steadily increased the number of individual online courses offered as well as fully online certificate and degree programs available to students. Take the University of Hawaii System, which in 2017 offers 47 fully online certificates and degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, masters and doctoral levels at four of its 10 branches. Hawaii’s state university system provides a wide range of opportunities to learn online, including via live or prerecorded cable television programs, synchronous interactive video, and fully online.

Hawaii’s Tuition & Financial Aid for College

The lush, tropical environment and multitude of well-respected academic institutions help Hawaii attract students from all over the country. Although students at Chaminade University of Honolulu and Hawaii Pacific University pay the same tuition no matter where they reside, the same is not true of the U of H public system, where the cost of attendance for non-residents is significantly higher, a deterrent for some students. Qualifying for in-state tuition at the U of H means living in the state for a full twelve consecutive months. In addition, prospective students cannot enroll in six or more credits during that 12-month period. Below are the average in-state and out-of-state tuition totals in Hawaii for the 2016-2017 school year.

National Center for Education Statistics website:

In-state tuition: $20,098

Out-of-state tuition: $27,911

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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Should students expect to pay in-state or out-of-state tuition for online college in Hawaii?

The tuition at Chaminade University of Honolulu is the same for everyone, those who reside in and outside of Hawaii. This means online students can live anywhere in the country and pay the same price. Even better, the online program costs less than what students on-campus pay. At the University of Hawaii, tuition works a little differently. Tuition paid by U of H students is the same regardless of attending online or face-to-face, making residency desirable for those in fully online and hybrid programs. Online students who reside outside of Hawaii are required to pay out-of-state tuition at U of H and this can result in a major savings for residents.

For those students who want to qualify for the in-state tuition online or on-campus at U of H, there is a terrific option offered through the state’s membership in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) initiative. Hawaii, along with 15 other states involved in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, keeps tuition at participating schools at no more than 150 percent of the in-state tuition. Students in Hawaii saved $77.9 million in the past five years through this program.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1.Residency doesn’t always determine whether students will pay in-state tuition.

  • 2.The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) lowers the cost to attend participating schools within Hawaii and 15 other states to no more than 150 percent of in-state tuition.

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What’s is Hawaii’s process for applying for financial aid?

Try to fill out the FAFSA application for the following year as soon as possible after the October 1 start date to ensure you receive the maximum amount of aid because many awards are given out on a first come first serve basis. Save time by using the IRS data retrieval tool to provide tax return information. Also, make sure to include the six-digit number that corresponds to your school. The federal FAFSA filing deadline is June 30, but check with your school because their deadline is probably much earlier. For instance, the U of H requires FAFSA to be filed by February 1 to ensure availability of funds. Once FAFSA is complete, wait for your award letter. After you accept the award, the school can put your package together. If you don’t leave enough time, you may be responsible for tuition or off-campus housing fees before the award arrives at the school.

Online and on-campus schools in Hawaii follow the federal Satisfactory Academic Policy (SAP) for maintaining financial aid eligibility. Each school regularly monitors for a set of qualitative and quantitative standards. The U of H, for example, checks eligibility for all students at the end of spring semester. If there are extenuating circumstances, students may initiate an appeal. Although some degree programs vary slightly, each school sets a timeframe for completion and students may not receive aid more than that maximum period. While the average formula is 150 percent of credits attempted here are the three major SAP criteria requirements:

  • GPA

    Minimum 2.0 undergraduate, 3.0 graduate

  • Time commitments

    Earn at least 67 percent of all attempted credit hours not including class withdraws, repeats, incompletes, fails, and non-credit hours.

  • Max credit loads

    Each school sets a timeframe for completion, with funding of 150 percent of credits attempted being the average standard. Financial aid does not cover any credits after the maximum number is met (180 credits in a 120-credit program).

College Scholarships & Grants for Students in Hawaii

Applying for scholarships can lower the financial costs associated with attending college in Hawaii in a major way. Most scholarships, whether merit based or need based, don’t need to be repaid after graduation like federal student loans, making them an attractive resource for the budget-conscious. Finding the right scholarships to pursue takes a combination of time and research but can prevent students from paying tons of money out of pocket in the end. Because a student’s total financial aid package combined with scholarships cannot total more than a school’s cost of attendance, it’s important to figure out how a scholarship will affect the maximum amount of financial aid you will qualify for before applying. Here we will answer questions that come up often when college students in Hawaii start the scholarship application process.

Which scholarships and grants are available for students in Hawaii?

Whether prospective students plan on residing on-campus or attending an online college in Hawaii, they will be happy to know there is no shortage of available scholarships available. There are several ways to find scholarships in the Aloha State. First, many colleges post scholarships online. For example, for links to a ton of scholarship opportunities just check the financial section of the Chaminade University website which links to both school and external scholarships. Also search databases such as collegescholarships.com and niche.com which have pages dedicated to scholarships in Hawaii.

How do I determine my eligibility for Hawaii’s scholarships and grants?

When you’ve decided which scholarships are best for you academically, it’s time to create a game plan. Keep in mind, staying organized is the quickest way to give yourself a shot at acquiring the most scholarship money for school. Most likely, you will need copies of several of the same documents so read over the requirements to get an idea what to gather. Prepare folders for each application so you can keep track of letters of recommendation, resume copies, high school transcripts, tests scores, and any other items required. Double check that you’ve filled out the entire application, and most essential—pay attention to deadlines, so you don’t run out of time before the due dates.

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Making the Choice: Finding the Hawaii Online College for You

Prospective students tend to start an online college search with different priorities in mind: affordability, program quality, aesthetics, available resources. There’s such a wide range of potential student needs; we polled students across Hawaii to discover what matters most to them in an online college. During that process, we noticed some questions about college choice coming up time and again. Here are three of those questions and the answers students need to select the right college in Hawaii for their needs.

Do colleges in Hawaii accept transfer credits and work/life experience?

Each online college in Hawaii has a general transfer policy to help determine the ease of which students can transfer credits to one of its degree programs. Due to an articulation agreement, Chaminade University accepts all transfer credits from the U of H community college system. Furthermore, the University of Hawaii System Course Transfer Database searches for courses that transfer strictly between schools in the U of H system. However, even when it appears as if credits should transfer without a hitch, it’s not always the case. Guidelines may prevent you from transferring credits because of your grade or just the type of class for which you want credit. Chaminade University attempts to ward off potential problems by offering an unofficial credit evaluation ahead of time.

Transferring credits isn’t the only way to lower your tuition costs. Several community colleges in the University of Hawaii System award credits based on life experience through the Prior Learning Assessment Program. Students take exams or create portfolios for evaluation and can qualify for PLA credits in a variety of courses from early childhood education to information technology. The Hilo and West Oahu campuses of U of H accept PLA credits from students transferring from community colleges in the system. Plans are underway to expand to other schools too. Although it doesn’t have a PLA program, Hawaii Pacific does award military members with credits for their training.

Do I need to pick an online college in Hawaii if I’m a resident?

No. Living in Hawaii does not limit your online college options. You can attend online college in Hawaii or elsewhere. You may even find a program outside of Hawaii that offers in-state tuition to online students

How do I choose between Hawaii’s online colleges?

The path to selecting the perfect online college in Hawaii starts with you. Think of all the qualities that matter in a distance education program. Here are some suggestions to get you started: student-faculty ratio, graduation rates, accreditation, 24/7 support, cost of attendance. Now use the ranking on this page and the search tool that follows to figure out which schools offer the qualities on your list. Filter the search results based on the quality above that means the most to you. For instance, find all the online schools in Hawaii with a low student-faculty ratio. From there, you can continue to use the search filter to narrow down the results until you have several schools that meet your needs. Call the enrollment counselor at each school who will be happy to answer any questions that come up during the search process. By the time you finish, you should have a pretty good idea of what online schools in Hawaii you’d like to attend.