A state scholarship fund that aids students majoring in tech and health-care fields has gotten a $21 million private donation.
A state scholarship fund that aids low- and middle-income students studying tech and health care has received another large private donation, one of the biggest since it was started in 2011.
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, and his wife, Connie, have donated $11 million to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Fund, and Microsoft has donated $10 million.
The fund is a public-private partnership, and with the Ballmer-Microsoft donation, the state will be required to match that contribution.
The Opportunity Scholarship helps students who have declared majors in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and health care. It’s based on the premise that STEM and health care are demanding majors, and students in those fields need extra financial help so they can focus on their studies.
Most Read Local Stories
- Risk of season's first lowland snow in Seattle area
- Academy warned Tacoma of violent training episode by officer later charged in Manuel Ellis' death
- Snow in the mountains, wind gusts everywhere as winter hits Seattle
- Sound Generations wants to be your grandma's IT so she can live longer, better
- Free COVID at-home testing to continue through end of year
The family-income cutoff is higher than for many other types of financial-aid programs. For example, a student from a family of four with a total income of up to $105,000 would be eligible for the scholarship.
The scholarship amount ramps up over the years as students progress through their schooling, starting at $2,500 for freshman year and increasing to $7,500 by senior year.
Students in STEM fields often do internships or research in their junior and senior years, and can’t work to subsidize their education.
The money is available to community-college students as well as students enrolled in four-year schools, but community-college students must show they are on course to transfer to a four-year school and major in one of the fields covered. The scholarship is administered by the College Success Foundation.
The Opportunity Scholarship started in 2011, when Microsoft and Boeing each kicked in $25 million. There were no other major contributions until this April, when Seattle angel investor Gary Rubens contributed $20 million.
The donation was no surprise to legislators. In June, during budget-writing sessions, lawmakers added $41 million to the Opportunity Scholarship fund to cover a match of Rubens’ donation and in anticipation of the $21 million Ballmer-Microsoft donation.