Online Colleges in Hawaii

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Updated November 10, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Despite being the seventh-smallest state in the U.S. and separated from the mainland by more than 2,000 miles, Hawaii boasts a strong higher education presence. Hawaiians enroll in postsecondary programs at a rate greater than the national average. Hawaii has seven community colleges, four public universities, and six private universities. Many offer online learning options ideal for busy individuals who cannot attend on-campus courses. In the following subsections, you'll find additional information on the state's job market, program majors to consider, the cost of attending top online colleges in Hawaii, and options available to help cover tuition expenses, including federal and state financial aid as well as third-party scholarships.

Job Outlook for Students with College Degrees in Hawaii

Hawaii boasts a lower unemployment rate than the national average, and Hawaiian workers earn an average of $2,000 more each year than the rest of the country.

According to a 2016 educational attainment study conducted by the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, the number of college-educated Hawaiians outpaced the national average. 62.6% of Hawaiians over 25 reported "some college education," in comparison to the national average of 58.4%. The same study shows a clear correlation between higher education and a decreased unemployment rate. Between 2010 and 2014, individuals with a bachelor's degree or higher had an unemployment rate of only 2.9%, while those with some college or an associate degree faced a 5.6% unemployment rate. 8.4% of high school graduates with no college education were unemployed. Reported median earnings increased with educational attainment, as well.

In November 2018, just 10% of all jobs posted on Hawaii Workforce Infonet required only a high school diploma or equivalent. This data suggests that, overall, a better job market exists for Hawaiian residents with a college education.

Unemployment Rate, November 2018

Hawaii 2.4%
United States 3.8%

Source: BLS

Annual Mean Wage, May 2017

Hawaii $52,050
United States $50,620

Source: BLS

Cost of Online Colleges in Hawaii

In the U.S., pursuing a college education requires a significant financial investment. The table below shows that the average tuition and fees for college in Hawaii are higher than the national average. Tuition for Hawaii community college online classes, however, generally costs less than comparable courses at a four-year university, making it worthwhile to consider starting at a more affordable community college and transferring to a four-year university.

Tuition for online classes in Hawaii is usually the same as on-campus course tuition, but online students save money because they do not pay for dining plans, transportation, campus technology, or facility use. Note the prices in the table below do not include additional student expenses for books, school supplies, or rent/housing. Additionally, the price of tuition and fees at individual institutions may vary, so make sure to research each of your prospective schools when calculating the costs of attendance.

Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19

  Public Two-Year Public Four-Year
Hawaii $3,920 $10,800
U.S. Average $3,660 $10,230

Source: The College Board

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Hawaii

Distance learners frequently face the high costs of out-of-state tuition. Out-of-state prices are often more than double their in-state equivalents. While reciprocity agreements, student exchange programs, and good neighbor policies are exceptions to this rule, most public institutions charge nonresidents more. This price increase occurs largely because public institutions receive financial funding from state taxes, creating an incentive to provide state residents with more favorable tuition rates. Online programs in Hawaii generally adhere to this in-state/out-of-state division, meaning distance learners on the mainland may want to look closer to home in search of affordable rates.

Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19

  Public Two-Year In-State Public Four-Year Out-of-State
Hawaii $10,800 $31,090
U.S. Average $10,230 $26,290

Source: The College Board

Financial Aid in Hawaii

To help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, fill out the FAFSA online. Nearly every student finds themselves eligible for some form of federal aid, whether it be Pell Grants, subsidized or unsubsidized loans, or federal work-study programs. Students can also receive financial aid from state grants. However, as seen in the table below, Hawaii ranks near the bottom for state grants provided to undergraduates.

Most students in the U.S. fund their education through loans, both government and private, contributing to a significant nationwide student loan debt. Fortunately, some college graduates become eligible for loan forgiveness programs through their careers. Teachers working in low-income school districts and individuals employed full time by a government or nonprofit organization, for example, may qualify for a reduction in their loan totals after completing several consecutive years of service. Additionally, if you're currently working and planning to go to school, look to see if your employer participates in any tuition reimbursement programs.

State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17

Hawaii $80
U.S. Average $820

Source: The College Board

Scholarships and Grants for Hawaii College Students

Many scholarships are available each year to students of accredited online colleges in Hawaii. Award committees consider factors like financial need, chosen major, ancestry, single parent status, and more. Here are a few scholarships to get your started:

Best Majors for Online Students in Hawaii

According to data gathered from the Hawaii State Department of Labor, nursing, social work, and finance saw the fastest growth rates of all occupations in Hawaii from 2008-2018, while industries including telecommunications, publishing, and agriculture saw some of the largest declines.

Hawaii schools offer many degrees geared toward these top industries. You can start on your career path by enrolling in Hawaii community college online courses and later transfer to a university to complete a bachelor's. Some accredited online universities in Hawaii also offer graduate degrees in finance, nursing, and social work, allowing for advanced educational opportunities.


At 35%, nursing and rehabilitation stands out as the fastest growing industry in Hawaii between 2008 and 2018. Nursing education offers multiple tiers of study, from RN studies to BSN studies and graduate work. Advanced students can pursue high-paying specializations like neonatal or emergency care.


The finance industry covers many occupations, including money managers, financial planners, securities analysts, and mortgage brokers. Top finance occupations in Hawaii grew by 33.3% between 2008 and 2018.

Social Work

Between 2008 and 2018, the number of social assistance jobs in Hawaii grew by 28%. Social work occupations allow for varied work environments and job duties with opportunities for professional growth. Eligible graduates working in social assistance through government or nonprofit employment may also receive student loan forgiveness.

Resources for Online College Students in Hawaii

Hawaii Adult & Community Education Office: The Adult Education Program of the Hawaii Department of Education offers education opportunities to adult students including GED classes and competency-based diploma tests, substitute teacher training, and other workforce education courses. Classes are held at 10 different campus locations.

HireNet Hawaii: Powered by the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and the American Job Center, HireNet Hawaii offers an extensive database of statewide job postings and a variety of educational, training, and career information resources for job seekers, college-aged youth, veterans, and employers.

Hawaii State Department of Education: The Hawaii State Department of Education creates policies, coordinates educational initiatives and programs, and provides resources to students, parents, teachers, and schools. Prospective students can find numerous resources on the DOE website, including college and career readiness assessments, adult education information, and scholarships.

Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations: The Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations provides resources for employed and unemployed Hawaiians, including the HireNet Hawaii job board, workforce development initiatives, unemployment benefits and insurance, and extensive research and statistics.

Hawaii Workforce Infonet: The Hawaii Workforce Infonet provides information to Hawaii employers and job seekers, including a statewide job board, industry and workforce research and publications, and data accessible through an online dashboard. Explore educational attainment information, career information, top industries by location, wage statistics, and employment or technical education.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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