Nearly $40 million to be awarded for STEM workforce


New scholarships funded through the Choose Ohio First program will boost Ohio’s efforts to strengthen the state’s workforce in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The scholarship will support students pursuing STEM degrees and certificates and students pursuing education degrees and certificates with a STEM focus. The scholarship was announced by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner after the award total of $39,649,020 – to be awarded over the next five years – was approved by the State Controlling Board.

“When I talk to employers across the state, their number one issue is finding people with the right skills to fill their jobs. It’s important that we’re creating more opportunities for Ohio’s students to earn STEM skills and stay right here in our state after graduation, and that’s what this program does,” said Husted. “Since I created the scholarship in 2008, there have been 17,678 Choose Ohio First students and today’s announcement opens that opportunity to hundreds more.”

This new funding marks the fifth round of grants for the Choose Ohio First program under the DeWine-Husted administration. It will create new scholarship opportunities at 45 colleges and universities across the state, including several schools that are new to the program.

“Supporting and growing the Choose Ohio First program has been – and continues to be – a top priority of the DeWine-Husted Administration,” Gardner said. “Choose Ohio First is vital for keeping Ohio’s economy and workforce strong into the future and for giving our students continued opportunities for success.”

The Choose Ohio First scholarship program began in 2008 in an effort to increase the number of Ohio students enrolling in and successfully completing STEM programs at Ohio’s public and independent colleges and universities.

The latest COF awards are part of a focused strategy to increase enrollment and completion in STEM fields to strengthen Ohio’s talent pipeline in STEM occupations and related industries. ODHE is also promoting the use of COF funds to assist students to obtain degrees and certificates in STEM areas, including STEM teacher education.

Community colleges, independent four-year colleges and universities, and public four-year universities are receiving funds. Chancellor Gardner said this range of school participation demonstrates the commitment of Ohio’s higher education community to respond to student interests and the state’s economic needs. Students who receive a COF scholarship are required to participate in a work-based learning opportunity such as a STEM internship, co-op, or research to help them transition effectively to the STEM workforce after graduation.

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