COLUMBUS — Scholarships funded through the Choose Ohio First (COF) program will boost Ohio’s efforts to strengthen the state’s workforce in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The scholarship will support an estimated 4,850 students pursuing STEM degrees and certificates. The scholarship was announced by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner after the award total of $42,920,740 (to be awarded over the next five years) was approved by the State Controlling Board.
“The Choose Ohio First scholarship is just one example of how Ohio continues to invest in growing our STEM talent,” Husted said. “We want our students to stay and work in Ohio. These scholarships will help young Ohioans gain valuable STEM skills, preparing them for one of Ohio’s many in-demand jobs and ensuring businesses have the talent they need to succeed.”
This new COF scholarship is the third round of grants for the Choose Ohio First program under the DeWine-Husted administration. It will create new scholarship opportunities at 44 colleges and universities across the state, including several schools that are new to the program.
“The Choose Ohio First program continues to grow as colleges and universities new to the program see its benefits,” Gardner said. “This funding exemplifies the state’s ongoing commitment to Choose Ohio First and shows the importance of preparing those students who stay in Ohio and continue their education for success in promising STEM careers.”
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 credentials 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. 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.
“These opportunities are possible thanks to the many business partners that work with our colleges and universities and their Choose Ohio First scholars,” Gardner said. “Those relationships create win-win situations for the students as well as the companies that may hire them as their future workforce.”