With mounting student loan debt and an overall lack of STEM graduates in the U.S., a pair of state Senators from New Hampshire attempted to introduce a solution addressing these concerns.
New Hampshire State Senators Dan Innis (R) and David Watters (D) announced a bill on January 14 that would eliminate student loan debt for college students who graduate from a NH state school with a STEM degree. The bill was also cosponsored by NH Representatives Patrick Abrami, Jess Rock, and Senator D’Allesandro.
New Hampshire Senate Bill 41-FN-A calls for $4 million towards funding scholarships for students pursuing technology degrees. The bill would allot $2 million in funding each year during 2018 and 2019. The appropriation of funds does not extend into 2020.
The funds fall under the discretion of the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation which is authorized to dole out up to $5,000 per scholarship.
New Hampshire isn’t alone in the struggle to find top talent with in-demand tech skills. With President Trump vowing to clamp down on illegal immigration, legal immigration, a source of tech-skilled labor, is in doubt. The H-1B Visa program is facing reform which creates real concerns that companies will face a shortage of skilled and tech-oriented labor.
When it comes to STEM overall, the U.S. is behind. Women and minorities shy away from pursuing STEM degrees in record numbers. Part of the problem is the high costs associated with pursuing a STEM degree.
For New Hampshire, the problem is especially worse. It is not a hotbed for startups and technology. Luring and keeping tech workers can be tough which alludes to the in-state focus of Senate Bill 41. On top of this, New Hampshire’s college graduates leave school with the third most student debt compared to the rest of the United States.
Not only is a four-year degree going to cost a lot, but STEM students often pay tons of additional expenses for text books, calculators, lab fees, lab equipment, and more. Additionally, challenging coursework requires extensive time commitment which means less time working to get paid. Overall, it is a tough gig, but these new policies might open the door for better overall STEM development in the United States.
LendEDU reached out to Senators Innis and Watters for comment, but no response has been received yet.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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