Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation today announced the re-opening of Wavemaker Fellowship Applications, a competitive student loan reimbursement program for recent graduates working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and certain design fields.
The Wavemaker Fellowship awards graduates who choose to work in STEM jobs in Rhode Island with a refundable tax credit that can cover student loan payments up to $6,000 per year for up to four years.
â€œA thriving STEM workforce is vital to jumpstarting our economic comeback,â€� said Governor Gina Raimondo. â€œWe are taking steps to keep our talented people here and attract others to start their careers in Rhode Island. The Wavemaker Fellowship is a creative solution to helping professionals with their college debt, while giving companies an important recruiting tool.â€�
â€œIn order to drive business growth and attraction in Rhode Island, we need to help companies compete and win in the war for talent,â€� said R.I. Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. â€œOur companies are making decisions that involve forecasting years into the future, so they need to have confidence that theyâ€™ll be able to fill their openings now and over the course of time. This program gives companies good reason for increased confidence by giving them a competitive edge in their efforts to attract and retain high-demand tech and design talent.â€�
â€œEncouraging students educated in STEM as well as environmental, medical, and design fields to stay and work in Rhode Island is a critical component to attracting employers in economic sectors built upon a foundation of scientific research and technological development. The Wavemaker Fellowship is helping to create a Rhode Island workforce that is ready for many of the best jobs of today and the future, while also giving those employees relief from the crushing burden of student loan debt,â€� said Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), who introduced the 2015 legislation to establish the fellowship.
â€œThis program is helping both our economy and our citizens get ahead,â€� said Senator Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln). â€œBeyond the benefits to Rhode Islandâ€™s economy, which are many, this program does a lot to relieve students in STEM careers from the heavy burdens of student loan debt. When we alleviate a portion of that burden, it frees up income that allows these graduates to stay here and stimulate the local economy. Itâ€™s good for businesses, good for students and good for the state.â€�
This is the second round of Wavemaker Fellowship awards. In the first iteration, 208 professionals were awarded student loan repayment for up to two years, with an average award of approximately $3,750 per year. Applicants were evaluated on a variety of criteria, but most importantly by their pursuit of careers in key advanced industries and the impact of the award on the applicantsâ€™ decisions to stay and work in Rhode Island. Approximately 60 percent of Fellows graduated from an RI institution. A full list of the award winners can be found here.
The Wavemaker Fellowship program was first passed by the General Assembly in 2015 as part of Governor Gina M. Raimondoâ€™s Jobs Plan to provide a financial incentive for RI graduates to stay in-state for a job or to start a business. Any candidate with higher education loan debt who is employed in a STEM-related field in the state is encouraged to apply.
The Wavemaker Fellowship will be available to graduates who have incurred student loan debt during the completion of an associateâ€™s, bachelorâ€™s, or graduate degree and are pursuing careers in STEM-related fields including life, natural or environmental sciences; computer, information or software technology; advanced mathematics or finance; engineering; industrial design or other commercially related design field; or medical or medical device technology in the state.
The maximum annual credit is $6,000 for graduate degree holders, $4,000 for bachelorâ€™s degree holders, and $1,000 for associateâ€™s degree holders. The program is part of the Governorâ€™s broader effort to attract and train a workforce with the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy including CS4RI and P-TECH.
To apply for the Wavemaker Fellowship, please visit wavemaker.commerceri.com. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 401-278-9100.