The number of students receiving college scholarships from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) rose about 15 percent this year, according to the state agency. The average scholarship amount for the 354 Native Hawaiian students who were eligible for funding from OHA this year was $2,458.

Together, they earned a combined total of $870,000 in scholarship money to help pay for college in a time of rising tuition costs. This funding brought the total amount of college scholarship money that OHA has given out over the past five years to about $3.5 million.

The agency says that Native Hawaiian students are leaning more and more heavily on financial aid from OHA, where they have been turning to cover up to 25 percent of their college expenses.

Despite the growing demand, the agency said in a press release that, “Helping Native Hawaiian students pay for college remains a high priority at OHA, whose goals include increasing the number of Native Hawaiian students who graduate college with the marketable skills they need to support themselves and their families.”