An Ohio scholarship program is rebooting to include computer science majors across in-state universities this fall.
The Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program offers scholarships for business collaborations and higher education at 35 colleges and universities to advance Ohio’s position in world markets such as aerospace, medicine and — beginning this fall — computer science, according to the Choose Ohio First Program website.
The program was created by the Ohio General Assembly in 2007 under the leadership of former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Jon Husted to increase the number of individuals studying science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, according to the Choose Ohio First annual report.
Throughout the next five years, the program will award $20,580,770 to students in computer science and related fields, and Ohio State will receive a grant of $2,582,790, an Ohio State press release said.
“This support will advance learning in areas vital to workforce development and Ohio’s innovation economy,” University President Michael V. Drake said in the release.
Randy Gardner, the Ohio Department of Higher Education chancellor, said the new addition to the program was the governor’s response to Ohioans’ needs.
“[What] the DeWine-Husted administration has been about in its first year is listening closely to both educators and employers,” Gardner said. “The one thing we are hearing significantly throughout the state is the increasing demand for computer science, data analytics, coding, cybersecurity, basically almost anything to software developing and the computer sciences.”
Employment within the computer science field is expected to grow by 16 percent by 2028 — much faster than the 5 percent average growth in other fields, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The program saw the demand for more individuals in the computer science industry as an incentive to offer scholarships to students, Gardner said.
Since the program’s start in 2008, the number of STEMM degrees awarded in Ohio has grown from 26,644 students to 42,786 in 2019, according to the Choose Ohio First annual report.
Currently, 3,435 Ohio students receive aid through the program, Jeff Robinson, director of communications at the Ohio Department of Higher Education, said in an email.
According to the annual report, $13.3 million was awarded during the 2018-19 academic year.
With the addition of computer science to the scholarship, the program is also allowing certificates and credentials for STEMM courses of varying course length, Gardner said.
“We now have significant flexibility to meet the needs of students,” Gardner said.
Colleges and universities are invited to participate in the program through a proposal application, Gardner said.
For more information on how to apply for the program, visit https://www.ohiohighered.org/cof/higher-education-institutions#Cohio.
Correction: A previous version of this story described Jon Husted as the former speaker of the General Assembly. This has since been corrected to reflect his position as former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.