Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about life at 'Iolani.

Life at 'Iolani

Below are some frequently asked questions about life at 'Iolani.

The Lower School is situated at the Diamond Head end of the 25-acre campus and encompasses the primary (K-3) and elementary (4-6) grades. The Upper School includes grades 7 - 12 and is located on the Ewa side of campus. All students share the use of the pool, gyms, and fields. The lower and upper schools have separate library, dance and computer facilities.


First Day of 2015-16 Aug. 24, 2015
Last Day June 2, 2016
Christmas Vacation Dec. 18, 2015 -- Jan. 4, 2016
Spring Vacation March 18 -- March 28, 2016


'Iolani does not provide bus transportation. Students ride The Bus or arrange private bus transportation through Roberts Hawaii at 832-4886 and Ground Transport, Inc. at 833-4222.

Overall class size varies depending on grade. There are approximately 70 students per grade in kindergarten through 5th grade and 120 students in 6th grade. Overall, there are 540 students in the Lower School.

Students in the primary grades enjoy a nurturing environment with kindergarten classes having a pupil-teacher ratio of 12:1. Grades 4 - 6 are departmentalized, and students report to different teachers for their classes. Lower School students also receive specialized instruction from p.e., dance, music, art, computer, science and religion teachers.

Although numbers are approximate, our goal for the Upper School is 1,330 students with 180 students in 7th grade, 195 in 8th, 240 in 9th and 230 - 235 in 10th - 12th. The average class size is 17 and the student-teacher ratio throughout the school is 12:1.

`Iolani is well known for providing personal attention to every student. Since classes are small, teachers know their students well and are able to provide additional help when it's needed. They meet with students during their free periods and at assigned times after school. Nine full-time counselors assist students with social, behavioral and academic concerns. As student advocates, they support the communication between students, teachers and parents so that no student falls through the cracks.

Kindergarten and 1st graders enjoy little or no homework, and assignments increase gradually each year.  Students in grades 4 - 6 can expect 50 - 90 minutes per school night, and usually no homework is assigned over the weekend.        

While acknowledging that strict adherence to time allotments is virtually impossible, the following guidelines are offered for homework on the designated days an Upper School class meets:
Grades 7-8 20 minutes per subject 
Grades 9-12 30-40 minutes per subject
AP Courses 60 minutes per AP course

Not every teacher assigns the maximum amount of homework, and most students utilize their free periods or study hall periods to complete work and meet with teachers.  This helps minimize their evening homework load.

Lower School students eat at 11:10. They may bring home lunch or buy lunch in the school cafeteria. Upper School students share a common 45 minute lunch period when lower school students are finished. They may bring lunch, eat in the cafeteria or buy food from one of the snack bars. The cafeteria is open for breakfast from 6:30 - 7:30 a.m. and during the lunch period, and the snack bars are open throughout the day. Students in grades 9 - 12 may eat during the lunch period or during one of their free periods.

A free period is a period during which no class has been scheduled. Students in grades 4 - 8 have an assigned study hall when no class is scheduled. Students in grades 9 - 12, who are performing well academically, are free to meet with teachers, work in the library or computer lab, eat, or meet with their friends. Seniors may leave campus during free periods.

`Iolani has no uniform but there is a dress code. While there are some differences in details between the Lower School and Upper School dress codes, all students are expected to be appropriately and neatly dressed.

'Iolani is a Christian school with an Episcopal tradition. Although we recognize and respect diverse beliefs, all students are required to attend weekly Chapel services. Students attend religion classes to gain insight into other faiths and cultures, from world religions to Christianity, and a one semester Bible class is required for graduation.

'Iolani offers after-school care for students in kindergarten - 4th grade until 5:30 p.m. on all full days of school. After-school care is not available on holidays, vacations or early dismissal days.  To enroll in the After School Care program, please go to:
After school enrichment classes are also offered to students in kindergarten - 12th grade. They include art, ceramics,  PSAT/SAT prep, ballet, jazz, hula, musical theater, gymnastics, judo, swimming, and tennis. Individual music lessons are available in violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, trumpet, percussion, and piano. The Lower School Foreign Language and Culture program introduces Chinese, Japanese and Spanish to students in grades 1 - 6.

About Admission

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about admission to 'Iolani. If you have additional questions, check the other topics listed on this page or contact us.

New students are admitted at kindergarten, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. Depending on the total school enrollment, a limited number of students are admitted to grades 10 - 12.

Grade Number of Students Appplication Deadline
Kindergarten 70 October 30
6th Grade 50 December 1
7th Grade 50 December 1
8th Grade 15 December 1
9th Grade 50 December 1
10th - 12th  Grades Limited December 1


The number varies from year to year, but we usually receive five to six applications for each opening.

We are looking for bright and active students who have the ability and potential to be successful and happy at `Iolani.  We also are looking for well-rounded students who will contribute to the life of the school.

When selecting kindergarten students we consider:

  • information on the application
  • preschool progress reports and teacher comments
  • test results
  • evaluator observations

For students entering grades 6 - 12, we consider:

  • information on the application
  • academic record, essay and test scores
  • teachers' recommendations
  • mentors' recommendations
  • character, work ethic and leadership qualities
  • information gathered during the interview or activity session



Kindergarten candidates come to `Iolani's campus on two occasions: once for an individually administered aptitude test, and a second time for a group readiness session.  The evaluation covers perceptual-motor skills, language abilities, cognitive abilities, self-concept, and social-emotional development.

Candidates applying to grades 6 - 11 take the Secondary School Aptitude Test (SSAT), participate in a group activity session or interview conducted by an `Iolani faculty member, and write an essay.

Those applying to grade 12 submit PSAT, SAT or ACT scores, participate in an interview and write an essay.  They must also be able to satisfy `Iolani's graduation requirements within one year.

Four admission committees made up of 'Iolani teachers, administrators and counselors are responsible for admission decisions.  There are separate committees for kindergarten, grade 6, grades 7 - 8, and grades 9 - 12.

SSAT scores are only one part of a student's admission folder, and no part is weighted.  Since we accept students from many public and private elementary and middle schools, SSAT scores provide a standardized measure of comparison for the Admission Committee.  There is no cut-off score for admission, and a broad range of scores exist in the upper grades.  Since admission is competitive, students who perform well on the SSAT have some advantage.

Yes.  Siblings of current `Iolani students and children of faculty and alumni are given preference when all other factors are equal.  However, we encourage `Iolani related families to apply to other schools.  With increased competitiveness at every grade level, admission is not guaranteed.

Kindergarten is the only grade level with age requirements.  Boys must turn five by June 30 of the year they enter kindergarten.  Girls must turn five by September 30 of that year.  Children whose birthdays fall close to the cut-off dates may be allowed to reapply the following year.

Grades 6 - 12 do not follow the kindergarten age guidelines.  In general, if a student has completed a particular grade, he/she is eligible to apply for the next grade.  In rare circumstances, the Admission Committee will recommend  that a candidate repeat a grade because of age.

Late applications for grades 6 - 12 only are considered on a rolling basis depending on space availability.  Please contact us directly at (808) 943-2222 if you miss the December 1 deadline.

A few students are required to attend `Iolani Summer School before we make a final admission decision.  More often, we recommend summer school to give new students the opportunity to enhance specific skills and to meet other `Iolani students.   Attending summer school often eases the transition into a new school.

If you meet all the deadlines, you can expect to receive a decision letter from us according to the following timetable:

Kindergarten:      Decision letters sent by April 30
                            Response date is May 10

Grades 6 – 12:    Decision letters sent by March 30
                            Response date is April 15

We create a waiting list when we have more qualified candidates than we have openings.  We do not offer a space on the list to anyone who has not completed the admission process.  The waiting list is not rank ordered, and we keep it active until August 15.  From year to year and grade to grade, the number of candidates on the list varies.

About Financial Aid

All applications for financial aid are held in strictest confidence. Once submitted, they become the property of 'Iolani School and are held for five years.

Please refer financial aid questions to Kelly Swartman-Hogan at 943-2397 or

It is our hope that you first evaluate all your resources, adjust priorities, and carefully manage your assets before coming to us for financial aid. The most helpful guideline comes from your personal knowledge of your family’s finances: Can you find a way to pay approximately $1,890 each month, for 10 months, for your child's education? If not, your family may be a candidate for financial aid.

No, there are no scholarships based on academic, athletic or musical merit. All financial aid is based on demonstrated financial need. At `Iolani, the terms scholarship and financial aid are used interchangeably.

There are approximately 70 scholarships that support the `Iolani Financial Aid Program, and each has its own eligibility criteria. Families apply for financial assistance in general and not for individual scholarships. When a student receives an award, he/she may be assigned to an individual scholarship based on the donor criteria.

Financial aid is awarded annually according to your level of need. We use a standard calculation from School & Student Service by NAIS (SSS) as a base. You complete the Parent’s Financial Statement (PFS) which considers your gross taxable and non-taxable income, assets, liabilities, family size, and number of children in tuition charging schools. After an allowance of basic necessities and required taxes, we consider the remaining funds for education.

Applying for financial aid has no bearing on the Admission Committee’s assessment of your son or daughter's potential as an `Iolani student.

Financial aid is recalculated each year using current information. In general, if there is little or no change in your family circumstances, you can expect the award to remain at about the same level. If your need increases significantly, `Iolani will try to meet that need. However, if your need decreases, your award will be adjusted accordingly.

No campus job is required, but we encourage financial aid recipients to volunteer for campus duties.

Yes. We assume that if you are applying for aid from `Iolani, you also will apply for financial aid from other schools as well. If another school does not have a financial aid program, please note that on your PFS.

No, if your family is awarded financial aid, you will not be expected to repay the award.

Financial aid funds are limited. Once funds are awarded, additional aid during the year may not be available. If you have a financial emergency, we encourage you to contact the Financial Aid Office.

The Tuition Refund Plan (TRP) offered to parents at the beginning of the school year provides a 100% pro-rata tuition continuation benefit in the event of a parent's or legal guardian's death. It also provides partial financial protection in the event of student medical absence, withdrawal or dismissal during the school year.

We believe that divorce, separation or never being married does not relieve the biological parents from their educational responsibilities. ‘Iolani requires that both parents apply for financial aid by completing the PFS and submitting their required documents by the deadline. The Committee reviews the financial status of both parents and determines the student's need based on the family's ability to contribute.

`Iolani will waive the requirement if the parent can provide documentation from an official source, such as a family doctor, lawyer, school official, social worker, or other non-related person who is aware of the family situation in a professional capacity that states:

  • the location of the other biological parent is unknown
  • the other biological parent has provided no support and has had no contact with the family for at least three years
  • it is not in the family's best interest to be involved with the other biological parent.

If there are other extenuating circumstances, please explain the situation in a letter addressed to:
`Iolani School Financial Aid Office, 563 Kamoku St., Honolulu, HI 96826

Yes.  The addition of another adult into your household generally changes the financial picture. We will ask you to complete the PFS together and provide information and documents pertinent to the new family unit.

Yes. You must submit a written request stating specifically what has changed since the PFS was submitted, and why the amount should be reconsidered. You may need to provide additional documents.

Yes, you may apply. Please call the Financial Aid Office at (808) 943-2397 or send an email to financialaid [at]