A National Science Foundation (NSF) grant will provide $4,000 awards to Essex County College students enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Associate degree programs. The S-STEM program will provide the scholarships for five years.
Essex received a portion of the NSF award as a participant in a Rutgers University-Newark led initiative along with two other community colleges. The overall grant for the four schools is $2.5 million and will support approximately 15 students a year at Essex. The grant also provides funds for a part-time coordinator/advisor.
S-STEM is geared toward financially needy, under-represented students in the STEM fields.
“These are ‘life support’ grants,” said Dr. Jill Stein, Dean of Essex’s STEM & Health Sciences. In order to be considered for the grants, students must have been awarded financial aid (Pell or TAG) and must have a minimum 3.5 grade point average in a STEM major. They must also submit an essay about their education and career goals.
Dr. Stein explained that the award is not a tuition scholarship. “It’s for financial support to ensure the students can concentrate on their school work rather than have to hold down one or more jobs to make ends meet. She said the money can go toward such necessities as rent, food, transportation costs or child care, but can also be used in any manner they wish.
Only current students, not incoming freshmen, can apply. Dr. Stein said the grants will probably be divided into bi-weekly payments, making it easier for students to budget.
Applications for the NSF grants are being accepted through September 30. Application information is available at: http://www.essex.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/S-STEM-Student-Application.pdf
While Essex students in the program are not obligated to transfer to Rutgers, Dr. Stein said there is the “potential to continue to receive support if they go there after earning their Associate degree.”
The initial Essex County College grant awardees will be announced later this fall.