Small Scholarly Support Creates Fruitful Impacts
Filipino Community Scholarships in Action
Alexis Joy Viloria
Year after year, college students face a growing obstacle in the wake of a burdening economic situation. Although a college education is seen as a necessity for the minds of the future, rising costs of attendance are only making college less accessible and more financially burdensome for college students and their families. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, for the 2019-2020 school year, tuition and fees at public four-year institutions were 13 percent higher than that of the 2010-2011 school year. The increases in higher education costs reach further than 2010-2011. This trend has been going on for decades. The National Center for Education Statistics also states the cost of attendance at colleges has risen by about 180 percent, from $10,231 to $28,775 between 1980 and the 2019-2020 academic year.
The chronic period of increase includes such economically stressful times including the 2008 Recession and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, during the COVID pandemic, the students of the world transitioned into a new mode of learning—remote learning which did not require students to be physically present at their institutions. Tuition, which covers the many costs associated with on-campus learning, continued to increase amid this time of virtual instruction. The ever-increasing costs of a higher education that is said to guarantee success can prove to be quite stressful for the modern student entering the next stage of their academic journey. Thankfully enough, though, there are members of the community who are always willing to give back to the carriers of the future.
Every year, there are a number of community-based scholarships that ensure college access to youth who aspire to attain a successful future. This includes scholarships for Maui students provided by the members of Maui’s Filipino community such as Binhi at Ani and the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation, both of which recently announced their 2022 scholarship recipients. Although community scholarships like these only represent a small portion of what it takes to pay for and attend college today, often a thousand to a few thousand dollars, they can make a huge difference and release financial strain on young students. Three Maui college students look back on their first year as college students and the impacts that Filipino community scholarships have had.
Fresh out of his Freshman year at Rice University, pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Data Science, Michael Wong sheds some light on scholarships and the overall financing of his education. Michael was a recipient of the Binhi At Ani scholarship and also received a scholarship from the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i. With his scholarships, Michael opted to put the money he earned towards paying his college tuition. “As it relates to college specifically, I learned that external financial support is definitely valuable, no matter what size, since the money adds up,” he states. Though costs of attendance are at an all-time high, it is crucial to note any contribution towards one’s educational expenses is a helpful one. When in college, saving money can also be a huge contributing factor toward paying off the costs of education. For Michael, college was an opportunity to practice financial consciousness. “In the bigger picture, going to college has made me more money conscious. I am a frugal person in general but the freedom of college brings with it the freedom to spend a lot of money in different ways.” For those currently on their path towards college (and paying for college), Michael leaves his piece of advice. “My advice would be to look for colleges that are known for generous financial aid and apply for external scholarships, especially local ones.”
Jeremy Peros, who wrapped up his Freshman year at the University of California Irvine also took the time to take a look into financing his education. A recipient of the Binhi At Ani scholarship in 2021, Jeremy opted to take a liberal approach to the use of his scholarship earnings. “The scholarship has helped me cover the various costs of college, including the cost of my textbooks, dorms and tuition,” Jeremy explains. On the topic of the affordability of college, Jeremy calls higher education “a very expensive experience.” Amid the financially burdening experience that is college, he looked to honor the aid of scholarships in this situation, such as those within Maui’s Filipino communities. “External financial support is extremely helpful in covering various costs and expenses and makes attending college much more affordable for prospective students.” Jeremy urges students on their academic journeys to “Apply for scholarships! Many organizations are greatly invested in supporting the next generation and they want to help you reach your dreams.”
Abbygail Cinena Viloria, headed into her Sophomore year at UH Mānoa to major in Secondary Education in English, also took the time to share her thoughts on local community scholarships in relation to financing her education. Abbygail was a recipient of the Binhi At Ani scholarship in 2021. With the scholarship she received, Abby says “The scholarship provided me an opportunity to buy a new laptop for school and pay for my textbooks.” She went on to explain that “Since my other laptop was getting old and less efficient, half the money was spent on buying a new laptop that could function better and last longer throughout the day. The other half was spent on paying for my textbooks.” Splitting her $1000 scholarship among two educational necessities, she made sure no money went to waste. Like Michael, attending college has provided Abby with a learning opportunity. “In terms of personal finance, college has helped me understand the importance of budgeting. Eating out, living off-campus and personal expenses can really add up quickly so it is important to balance out my spending.” Abby urges prospective college students to “continuously apply for scholarships and budget! Whether you are still in college or about to start, never stop applying for scholarships because each dollar will contribute to less debt and better education!” And to those who funded her journey, Abby states “In terms of external financial support, I am continuously grateful for all the programs and people who graciously give out money towards improving students’ education.”
Although these students are only a portion of the way through their higher educational journey, they have expressed the learning of a lot of lessons within funding their education and even sustaining themselves financially through it. All were able to agree even smaller local scholarships from the communities that fostered their growth can make a great deal of impact on their financial situations. Even more so, they highly encouraged other students just like them to seek help just as they did—within the communities that are so eager to help them succeed. As times change and communities petition for more accessible higher education to ensure opportunities for success for all, we can only be thankful for those who make the effort within their communities to send youth towards the future.
Alexis Joy Viloria is a Maui High School alum and upcoming Sophomore at Stanford University. As a senior at Maui High, Alexis authored the Google Is Not Everything…column for The Fil-Am Voice. She received a full ride scholarship from Stanford and also received scholarships from Binhi at Ani, the Gromet Foundation, the Maui High School Foundation Make It Scholarship, Ian Walsh Menehune Mayhem Scholarship and the Kenneth O. and Doris A. Rewick Educational Aid Fund Grant from the Central Union Church Women’s League. The daughter of Alex and Juvy Viloria, she is currently interested in pursuing a major in Earth Systems. Alexis is the President and founder of Stanford’s surf club and she loves to spend her free time in the water.