In general, island life is not cheap and you will ease your transition if you accept that fact before you try to set up household here. We are also NOT the most expensive place to live in the country either. Wai'anae is somewhat less expensive than most communities in the state. Consumer goods are usually some what cheaper on O'ahu than the neighbor islands because freight is shipped here first and then reshipped to our neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or tips from anybody you talk to at the school. Sometimes you might strike up a conversation with somebody who knows somebody who might have a roommate who's moving to Nebraska thereby vacating a furnished home for you.
Check out this chart from Information Please
to compare Honolulu with other major cities on key expenses.
If you're frustrated by national apartment search web sites, you might get a better picture of local housing options by visiting an O'ahu based information source.
The Honolulu Advertiser is one of the state's two major newspapers and is a good source for Rental Units
If you're in a position to buy a home, check out the Honolulu Board of Realators
for the most comprehensive list of homes for sale on the island. They also have a search feature for rental properties.