By: Universe Yamase.
Photo courtesy of, T. Suenaga.
For decades, Pacific Island students who enrolled in the University of Hawaii (UH) qualified for resident tuition so long as they met certain criteria. On June 15, 2006, the UH policies changed. Pacific Island students continued to be exempted from non-resident tuition; in addition, the policy was revised to include an increase in tuition rate. Now, students from the Pacific region may no longer be charged with the resident tuition. The UH created a separate rate specifically for this group. In addition to the resident and non-resident tuition, there is a middle category, which is 150% of the resident rate. This was set up for Pacific Islanders. On the UH application form, there is an emphasis on this recently implemented policy. It states that “citizens of an eligible Pacific island district, commonwealth, territory, or insular jurisdiction, state, or nation which does not provide public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees may be allowed to pay 150% of the resident tuition”. These Pacific nations consist of: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Futuna, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis. Students who are of Pacific Island descent and who are Hawaii residents already may not be affected by the new policy. Nonetheless, the announcement of the 2006 UH proposal to raise tuition costs for the Pacific citizens inevitably infused a mixture of emotions among the affected communities. With the intention to learn how the UH system administered this policy, this paper serves as a guide to the establishment of the 150% resident rate in the UH System.
UH Policies Amended:
From the Presentation UH #1, the Board of Regents (BOR) requested to modify the exemptions to the non-resident fee differential under the Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Title 20 Chapter 4, which eventually had taken into effect in 2006. Previously before the amendments, UH#1 stated that the HAR for Pacific Islanders “allowed the resident rate for jurisdictions without a public institution of higher learning”. When a group of people gets used to a unique treatment and then finds out that the treatment will be revoked, the outcome may be a controversial one. Clearly, this preceding statement portrayed the UH tuition case for the Pacific Island students. Citizens from respected island nations and advocates of Pacific Islanders challenged a policy that would no longer be in their favor. In BOR#1, there are three findings that clearly eliminate Pacific Island students from attaining student residency. The first finding specifically states the “presence in Hawaii primarily to attend an institution of higher learning shall not create resident status”. Before the proposal was introduced, many Pacific Islanders were on resident tuition. They left their homelands in pursuit of a higher education and returned home after completion. Now, UH disqualifies future Pacific Island students from receiving resident tuition who are mainly in Hawaii for higher learning. The second criterion denies student residency if a student holds two resident statuses both in Hawaii and elsewhere. Pacific Islanders who are mainly here in Hawaii for an education become Hawaii residents when they live in Hawaii for a certain period of time and pay taxes. The UH system does not accept this. BOR#1 claims that even if “a person who is a Hawaii resident for tax or voting purposes, for example, is not necessarily a resident for University of Hawaii tuition and admission purposes”. Within the current HAR Title 20 Chapter 4, Pacific island students may not be entitled to resident tuition even if their nations lack a public institution of higher learning. The status quo changed.
In addition to modifying the HAR Title 20 Chapter 4, the BOR Policy Chapter 6 “Tuition, Scholarships, and Fees” required adjustment as well. Within the Exemptions to Non-Resident Tuition for Pacific Islanders, the UH#1 also stated that “BOR policy allows the resident rate for jurisdictions without a BA granting public institution higher learning”. This regulation mirrored the HAR policy, and both BOR and HAR policies were revised to replace “resident rate” with “150% resident rate” in the policy statement. In the BOR Policy Chapter 6-8-c “Board Exemptions to Non-Resident Tuition”, it states:
“Citizens from an eligible Pacific Island district, commonwealth, territory, or insular jurisdiction, state or nation which provides no public higher education institution granting baccalaureate degrees are charged 150 percent of the resident tuition rate. The Office of the President updates and distributes the list of eligible Pacific Island jurisdictions.”
Both the Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 20 Chapter 4 and the Board of Regents Policy Chapter 6 sought revisions in order for the 150% Resident Rate to take effect. Before the revised policies became valid, a UH rule-making procedure had to have occurred. The UH rule-making procedure is a preliminary step before a UH policy becomes enacted or revised.
In order for the UH Board of Regents to increase tuition rate for the Pacific Islanders, a public notice needed to be announced to the community. According to BOR#2, the UH advertised the public notice on the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Maui News, the Garden Island News, and the Hawaii Tribune Herald on April 1, 2006, April 18, 2006, and April 20, 2006. More in depth information on the hearing was found on BOR#3. Located in BOR#3, the hearing took place at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu and began at 10:00 A.M. The Board of Regents also provided an agenda for the June 15, 2006 hearing. People were allowed to present their testimony or provide written testimonies on matters on the BOR agenda. BOR required that individuals who intend to testify contact the Secretary of the Board two days before the hearing date by calling the provided phone number. The agenda consisted of all the information that would be discussed. Listed below the “Agenda Items, Public Session”, there were topics for the University of Hawaii Community Colleges, University of Hawaii at West Oahu, University of Hawaii at Hilo, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of Hawaii System. Under the University of Hawaii System, items 7 and 8 referred to the increase for Pacific Islanders’ tuition rate. Item 7 stated the “Amendments to Administrative Rules Governing Determination of Residency for Tuition Purposes”, and item 8 called for “Revised Student Financial Assistance Program”. These particular items on the agenda alerted the Pacific communities because the recommended amendments targeted them. The final decision whether to increase the Pacific Islander tuition or not came after the BOR’s voting session. In the response to the amendments, 7 out of the 12 members voted in favor for the revisions.
BOR#2 also provided information on the hearing. On Thursday, June 15, 2006, the Conference Room C at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu filled up with the Board of Regents, UH administrators, and the public attendants. 30 individuals testified, and nearly all of them opposed the motion. Among the testifiers were: UH faculty members, UH Pacific Islander alumni from the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (F.S.M.), and American Samoa, a representative from the UH Pan Pacific Club, professor and the head of a department from the College of the Marshall Islands located in the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the College of Micronesia located in the F.S.M., the Governor of Samoa, and the Deputy Consul General from the FSM Consulate Office-Hawaii. Some testifiers argued that increasing tuition would make it harder for Pacific Islanders to afford an education, especially that they were already struggling. Some feared that the impact of increased tuition would decrease Pacific Island enrollment. Many Pacific Islanders worked two jobs to make a living while going to school. Having a tuition increase meant losing students who were struggling to meet tuition costs. Another reason brought up was the relationship that Micronesia and Hawaii possessed. Hawaii served to be a place where many students from the Pacific countries turn to for Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate’s Degrees. Raising tuition would affect the unique relationship that the State of Hawaii and other Pacific countries have. Others inserted their opinions on the injustice of the proposal. Clearly, many individuals voiced their disagreement with the recommended revisions.
Reasons for Revision:
A presentation entitled “Student Financial Policy Revision BOR Policy, Chapter 6” by Linda K. Johnsrud and Karen C. Lee revealed the reasons for the policy revisions. These reasons were:
To maximize the financial assistance available for Hawaii residents enrolled as students in the UH system, to ensure that the revenues made available for financial assistance serve the interests of the University and the taxpayers of the state of Hawaii, to monetize the existing tuition waivers and non-resident tuition differentials as appropriate, [and] to increase the amount of assistance available to the students based on their financial need.
These motives were the driving forces to the 150% Resident Rate for students from the 17 Pacific nations. The points stated were influenced by the need of financial aid for Hawaii residents and students with financial need. By generating additional funding for the University of Hawaii, the BOR looked upon increasing tuition rate on a particular group of students. This solution was a viable option for those who shared this opinion with the proponents of the proposal. Increasing tuition rate intended for a good cause, however, many Pacific Islanders still continue to disagree with how the UH dealt with its agenda. Despite that a portion of the community opposed the motion, UH justified its case and found an opportunity for a “means to an end”.
Rules are made in the University of Hawaii through an established systematic process. The steps to establishing or revising policies within the UH entity are most likely followed by a proposition being called upon for consideration. The UH has to inform the general public of the certain policies being introduced and make documentation readily available for the people to read. Information on the hearing date, time, and location are also public matters. A hearing is critical in the process. It is essential to give the public an opportunity to testify for or against the proposal. This hearing phase is crucial for testifiers who will impact the Board of Regent’s decision-makings. Overall, the University of Hawaii does not change its policies in a simple fashion because of some people’s requests. The system that UH complies with requires the involvement of the public. Policies are a public’s affair as well. Rule making is not completely an internal business for it makes way for the community’s participation.
1. "Board of Regents." University of Hawaii. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. .
2. BOR#1: Chapter 6 Tuition, Financial Assistance, and Fees. PDF.< http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/bor/policy/borpch6.pdf> accessed: March 4, 2012.
3. BOR#2: Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 20 University of Hawaii Chapter 4 Determination of Residency as Applied to Tuition Payments and Admission. 15 July 2006. PDF.http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/bor/adminrules/chapter04.pdf accessed: March 4,2012.
4. BOR#3: Minutes University of Hawaii Board of Regents' Meeting of June 15- 16, 2006. 15 June 2006. PDF. http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/bor/regular/minute/20060615.regular.pdf>. accessed: March 4, 2012.
5. UH#1: Johnsrud, Linda K., and Karen C. Lee. Student Financial Assistance Policy Revision BOR Policy, Chapter 6. 15 June 2006. PDF.< http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/app/opp/finaid/financialassistance.pdf> accessed: March 4, 2012.
6. UH Application form: University of Hawaii System Application Form. PDF. http://www.hawaii.edu/admissions/sysapp12.pdf. accessed: March 4, 2012.
 According to the University of Hawaii System website, “the affairs of the University of Hawaii fall under the general management and control of the Board of Regents. The board formulates policy and exercises control over the university through its executive officer, the university president.”
 This exact statement on the UH application form was derived from this specific policy in BOR Policies and Bylaws Chapter 6.