UW Bothell students are finding success thanks to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS).
“The scholarship has helped me most with books. I've noticed that new additions for STEM books are always released and they're nearly $500.” states Dion Thompson, University of Washington Bothell student and Student Government officer. He explains, “It's definitely relieved a lot of financial stress, because my mom is a single parent and she didn't go to college.”
The purpose of the scholarship is to support low-income and middle income students. “It’s based on financial need,” says Klondy Canales, program officer for WSOS. Canales says, “In order to get matched up, you have to attend high school in Washington State and have an interest in the STEM field.” With 5,500 student recipients, 52% are first generation students and 60% are women.
Theresa Britschgi, director of program for the WSOS, gives insight on how the need for this scholarship was identified. She explained, "In 2011, a group of legislators who were largely from the Microsoft area went to Olympia and said 'I see you're going to raise the cost of tuition again in higher education. How will we attract students to these programs and get a bachelor’s degree if they can't pay for it?'"
With House Bill 88 being passed and signed by former Governor Christine Gregoire, the program began to get funding. The catch was to raise enough money in order to be matched by the state. “That first year, nearly $30 million was raised by Boeing and Microsoft.” presented Britschgi. She continues, “We're in it to win it, and now we've raised $94 million." That number continues to increase by the year.
“I'm a first generation student so my family made very little money,” says Jordan Prosch, (CSS ’15). Prosch explained that it helped pay for his education and eased the amount of loans he had once he graduated. He now works for MAQ Software, a digital marketing and technology solutions company.
Canales says that WSOS is looking to increase the number of student scholarship recipients. They are hoping to help more students learn about the scholarship and take advantage of the resources. “A big proponent is promotion,” explained Canales. The more low-income students in STEM learn about the scholarship, the more WSOS scholarships awarded.
”We are a ‘Yes’ organization.” Britschgi says.
For more information on where to apply, click here.