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New I-WORK Program Improves and Expands

May 2009

By the beginning of first term in July 2009, Brigham Young University-Hawaii will have absorbed its International Work Experience Scholarship (IWES) program into I-WORK— the International Work Opportunity Returnability Kuleana —and added several significant enhancements, including the following:

  • All current BYU-Hawaii international students and new international applicants can apply for the I-WORK program.
  • Married I-WORK students will have their housing and insurance covered by the program. Under IWES the married students were responsible to pay their own housing and insurance.
  • I-WORK includes a 50 percent grant and a 50 percent forgivable loan.

"Under I-WORK we are providing more aid to more students," said Rebecca Harrison, assistant controller at BYU-Hawaii. She explained that the Hawaiian word kuleana, which means "stewardship or responsibility," focuses on the international students' commitment to return to their home regions with the abilities and experiences to succeed.

The mission of I-WORK is to provide assistance to international students who need financial support so they can return and provide Church leadership in their home regions.

In addition to fostering returnability, I-WORK teaches students the importance of working and contributing to the costs of their education.

The generosity of donors has enabled BYU-Hawaii to increase the funds allocated to this program, thus providing additional funding to help even more international students.

The grant portion is handled just like a scholarship, and the forgivable loan element reinforces the commitment international students make to return home. For example, those who return to their target regions will have 25 percent of the loan forgiven for each year they remain in their home target area. Those who don't fulfill their commitment and decide to stay in the U.S. will have a student loan to pay back, just like most of our domestic students who take out Stafford Loans to pay for their education. The loan balance currently amounts to approximately $4,500 a year. Interest of 4 percent will not start to accrue on the loan balance until after a six-month grace period.

International students under I-WORK continue to:

  • Enroll each school year for 14 credit hours for two semesters and six credit hours for two of the three midyear terms.
  • Maintain good grades.
  • Work 19 hours per week for 45 weeks and 40 hours per week for seven weeks.
  • Live in on-campus housing.
  • Complete an annual ecclesiastical endorsement that verifies they are in compliance with the university's honor code.

In connection with the new academic calendar, another key benefit of this program is that I-WORK students are eligible to remain in the program for a total of three years—enough time to complete 120 credits, which is the number required for all bachelor's degrees at BYU-Hawaii. Finishing their degree in three years instead of four represents a significant savings opportunity for the student because they'll be able to get into the workforce one year sooner and for the university because it allows for capacity to serve more students.