The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) helps low- and middle-income Washington state residents earn their bachelor’s degrees in the high-demand fields of science, technology, engineering, math and health care Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.

WSOS was created in 2011 to address unfilled seats in the high-demand sectors that drive our economy like aerospace, engineering, technology and health care as well as rising tuition costs at Washington colleges and universities. Businesses and the Washington State Legislature joined forces to fulfill the promise of better education and career opportunities for Washington students. Together they have created a unique public-private partnership, with significant support from founding partners Boeing and Microsoft and matching dollars from the State.

This first-of-its-kind program supports Washington students from low- and middle-income households to attain bachelor’s degrees in high-demand fields including science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and health care through scholarships of up to $22,500 as well as professional development, skills-building workshops and genuine industry exposure to help increase the rate at which students enter our state’s workforce.

The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) supports low- and middle-income students pursuing eligible high-demand majors in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) or health care and encourages recipients to work in Washington state once they complete their degrees. Students must have a minimum 2.75 GPA and plan to enroll in an eligible Washington state college or university.

WASHINGTON state employers have plenty of jobs in the high-paying science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and health-care fields. The problem is finding qualified candidates locally to fill thousands of positions in a competitive market.

Only 9 of 100 students born in the state will work in these STEM and health-care fields, according to a 2013 joint report by the Boston Consulting Group and the Washington Roundtable

More Washington natives can become programmers at Microsoft or engineers at Boeing. But too many students, especially those from poor families, are not sure how to pursue an education for these high-demand fields.

The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship can help.

Started in 2011 as a public-private partnership funded by businesses and the Legislature, the scholarship program is a strategy to help develop homegrown talent and fill a leaky pipeline to jobs specifically in the STEM and health-care fields.

So far, about 4,400 students from low- to middle-income households have received scholarships to attend public and private two- and four-year colleges statewide. More than two-thirds of the 900 Opportunity Scholarship graduates so far are working in their field or seeking an advanced degree.

Students receive $2,500 for the first two years of college. As long as they earn college credits, they are eligible for up to $5,000 in the third year, $7,500 in their senior year and, if necessary, up to $5,000 in a fifth year. They also receive counseling and help with internships.

Scholars say the money allows them to focus more on school and less on barriers to graduation, such as working part-time jobs and commuting long distances.

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

Teachers and counselors should spread the word.

Contact

Vickie Rekow

1605 NW Sammamish Rd.

Suite 200

Issaquah, WA 98027-5388

info@waopportunityscholarship.org

tel: 425-679-5549

fax: 425-416-2001

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Monday. For more information, visit: waopportunityscholarship.org

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