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How a $1.5M grant will help lower-income students at UNG
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Students walk across the The University of North Georgia Gainesville campus Tuesday, June 28, 2022. - photo by Scott Rogers

The University of North Georgia was recently awarded a six-year $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, which will allow lower-income students to earn scholarships toward degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

“Almost all money is going directly into student pockets to support them getting through STEM degrees here at UNG,” said Natalie Hyslop, professor of biology at UNG and the grant’s principal investigator. 

The grant will allow UNG to award scholarships of up to $10,000 annually to at least 31 students, with a roughly even split between those on the Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses. 

Funding will begin at the start of 2023. 

The grant “seeks to increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields,” according to the National Science foundation website

“This is going to really positively impact so many students’ lives,” Hyslop said. “We saw from our previous programs that it did, so we're really excited about this opportunity because now we have more money.” 

UNG previously received a $615,000 grant under the same NSF S-STEM program, which ran from 2015-2020 and spurred undergraduate research that helped propel 14 UNG students directly to graduate school. It is unclear how competitive the grant was this time around, but last time, about one-in-four proposals were funded, Hyslop said. 

The program is open to full-time and part-time students pursuing associate and bachelor's degrees in biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. Students pursuing medical degrees are not eligible. 

In addition to scholarship money, there will be a first-year STEM seminar, student support services, undergraduate research involvement, professional development and internship opportunities.

Students will be paired with a faculty mentor and a peer mentor. The first-year seminar will train students in study skills and resumes and connect them with speakers who help them understand what they can do with their degree upon graduation.

The grant began in 1998 when Congress passed the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act. 

“When Congress designated this money, they wanted it to go to lower-income students to help increase the diversity, and recently they started using language such as social mobility and economic mobility,” Hyslop said.