While many in Congress are attempting to limit the federal government’s support of public higher education, Mazie Hirono believes there is a strong role for the federal government. The federal government, in collaboration with universities, colleges and businesses, can create a strong university system that will enable students to be successful in school and in life.  A strong university system is an economic engine for our state as it can attract the best and the brightest and create good paying jobs, she said.

She recognizes that support for higher education, however, cannot be done in vacuum. Support for the economy and job creation ultimately provides the resources for the federal government to allocate to Hawaii and other states to support public higher education.  This is also why Mazie Hirono supports President Obama’s initiatives on tax reform, clean energy, and investment in bridges, highways, airports, and schools, as they are all designed to stimulate the economy. 

College affordability is both a local and national issue. The federal government currently supports students in the University of Hawaii system in myriad ways in this area and many may not be aware of it. 

This support includes Pell grants, Stafford loans, and work-study programs, all of which bring in millions of dollars in federal support to help students who are enrolled in the University of Hawaii system. Mazie Hirono has supported the expansion of Pell grants, limitation of the percentage of loan payments in wages, tuition loan forgiveness for students who pursue certain careers such early childhood education, and tax credits for tuition.

In addition, federal bonds for infrastructure support and construction have been made available to the UH to retrofit or replace existing buildings.