MANOA, Hawaii (KHON2) — More local high school graduates are staying home for college.

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The University of Hawaii said there is a big increase of first-time freshman from Hawaii public schools.

Enrollment at UH’s 10 campuses saw the largest increase since 2010 in 2023, with 560 more students than 2022. Local students told KHON2 that tuition keeps them home.

“It would have been much more because I would’ve been out of state,” UH Manoa junior Hinano Iguchi said. “It depends on the school, but where I was going to go was like, I don’t even know but like way over like $50K. That’s when my parents were like, ‘I don’t know about that.'”

Iguchi admitted that she had a tinge of island fever.

“All your friends around you are going to the mainland. And it’s not like embarrassing, but it’s just a little like, ‘Oh, like she’s only going to UH,’ type of thing but then COVID happened when I graduated and my mom didn’t want to pay for like such an expensive school for it to be mostly online.”

UH’s website shows that regular tuition for an undergraduate, in-state student at Manoa is $5,652 — about $11,300 per year.

“The mainland is like, $30,000, $40,000 per year, so I came here because it was close to my family, too, and it was a lot more cheaper,” UH freshman Dayven Hom said.

Others pointed out that the rising cost of living is a challenge as well.

“The tuition, of course, especially in the mainland it’s more up,” UH sophomore Micah Mahiai said, “but seeing the rise in our tuition, especially for boarding as well, it’s definitely a struggle for locals, especially.”

Every local student who spoke to KHON2 said that in-state tuition was their primary reason for staying in the Islands. Other factors included financial aid and scholarships.

“I’m not paying anything, I’m here on a full ride,” Hom said, “they actually pay me to come here. They have like these new Warrior scholarships, and they basically provide your scholarships for four years, and they say, you know, ‘You look good enough, So I’ll, I gon’ give you some money to, like, come here and do research.'”

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UH community colleges also saw a jump in enrollment, Windward Community College led the way with a 15.1% increase. Click here to view a full breakdown.