Obama, Collins Bill Creates Financial Aid and Scholarship Database
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) was joined by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to introduce the National STEM Scholarship Database Act (S. 2428), which would launch an innovative online database to coordinate information on financial aid opportunities available in science and technology through the federal government and public or private resources. More and more American students are pursing advanced degrees, and this database would make it easier for them to find and access the thousands of publicly and privately-supported scholarships and fellowships that may be available to them.
This legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Norm Coleman (R-MN). Representative Rush Holt introduced companion legislation, which passed the House of Representatives in June.
"Higher education remains out of reach for far too many Americans," said Senator Obama. "This country has the best and strongest system of college and universities in the world, and for decades we have been the leader in scientific advancement, research and development, and innovation. We must ensure every student has the financial opportunity to attend these institutions. The STEM Database will make it easier for students to know which opportunities for scholarships and fellowships are available to them, and will give all our students a fair shot at pursuing an advanced degree. If we are truly committed to restoring America's competitiveness in the world, we must recruit a new generation of science and technology leaders, and this legislation is an important step forward."
"I join the growing concern that the United States is not preparing a sufficient number of students, teachers, and practitioners in science, technology, and engineering fields," said Senator Collins. "For many students, the obstacle is often not a lack of interest but rather a lack of financial resources. The database created in this bill will have a complete list of STEM scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of financial assistance from all public and private sources. I am pleased to join my colleague, Senator Obama, in introducing this legislation."
By creating a single web portal with the many financial aid opportunities available in science and technology, the National STEM Scholarship Database Act would promote study in these important fields. Access to this information is especially crucial for first generation college students who might otherwise receive limited guidance in how to successfully pursue, and finance, a degree in science or technology. As we attempt to raise the level of engagement and opportunity for students to enter STEM disciplines, it is essential that we reduce obstacles to accessing financial support; obstacles that might otherwise prevent students from pursuing their dreams, and America from maintaining its leadership in innovation.
The STEM Scholarship Database:
* Includes information on available financial aid that would be organized by fields of study as well as by postsecondary or postbaccalaureate programs of financial support.
* Organizes information on opportunities specifically targeted to individuals based on gender, ethnicity, family income, or other demographic characteristics.
* Makes available information that is searchable.
* Includes hyperlinks to programs and to application materials as well as contact information for applicants to receive further guidance.
* Calls on the Secretary of Education to contract with a private entity to furnish and regularly update the information available through the website.