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Will a free ride to college boost STEM study in N.Y.?


In his 2014 agenda, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed giving college scholarships to high school students as a way to boost study of science, technology engineering and math, or STEM.

But some educators say a scholarship may not be the best way to get more kids involved in these subjects.

Cuomo’s idea is to give a free ride at SUNY schools for students who are in the top 10 percent of their class and study STEM. The catch is they have to stay and work in New York for five years after they graduate.

"The future of the economy is in STEM jobs, we should be incentivizing our education system to fill those openings," Cuomo said in his State of the State address.

The governor’s budget allocates $8 million to fund the scholarships. Tuition at a state school typically starts at $5,800 a year, plus room and board.

"A more consistent exposure at the K-12 level is really going to make a huge difference with how students perceive what STEM education is all about," said Chuck Goodwin heads the New York State STEM Education Collaborative. "It’s not an overnight experience that’s going to convince them that this is the direction they should take."

Goodwin also raised the point that most students in the top 10 percent of their grade are already planning on attending college. He says the program should have a broader reach.

"STEM education is not for just the higher level students," he said. "STEM education is for all students."

Goodwin says overall interest in STEM is waning among students. He approves of Cuomo’s focus on STEM, though the state needs to come up with a definition of just what fields of study will qualify for the subsidy.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail
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