Finding Grants for Math Students
Mathematics majors have a huge range of opportunities open to them, including teaching, finance, accounting, software development, programming and statistical research. Math majors can work in the public or private sectors, or in academia. Because math majors are needed in so many fields, the student who begins to do some research will find an ample supply of grants for all levels of study. Women and minorities are particularly underrepresented in mathematics, and so are the targets of many funding opportunities.
Federal and State Grants
The Federal Government is very concerned about the United States’ global competitiveness. For this reason it has added some grant programs for students interested in math and the sciences.
- Academic Competitiveness Grants are available to academically excellent students who are freshmen and sophomores in college. The grants are given in conjunction with the Pell Grant.
- The national SMART grant is also given in conjunction with the Pell Grant. It is awarded to academically gifted students who are planning to major in math, engineering, or within the sciences. This grant is given to juniors and seniors.
- The TEACH grant awards funding to students who are planning to teach elementary school math or science. In return for these lucrative grants, the students agree to teach in a low-income school for a minimum of four years. Information on these three programs is available at www.studentaid.ed.gov.
States are also very concerned with their ability to attract lucrative technology, manufacturing and financial services businesses. As a result, many states have instituted programs to encourage their students to enter math and the sciences, and to teach math and science.
- The Kansas Board of Regents sponsors a Math or Science Teacher Service Scholarship. In return for teaching in the Kansas school system (the commitment is two years for every year of scholarship support), juniors or seniors majoring in math or the sciences may qualify for meaningful scholarship support. The website is www.kansasregents.org/scholarships_and_grants.
Students should visit their state’s higher education commission website to begin researching what funding their state may have available for math and science majors. The list of higher education commissions can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALWebAPP/students/english/funding.jsp.
College and University Funding for Math Students
One of the first places a student should research for grant and scholarship funding is the college. In addition to general scholarships and grants available to the general student populations, students should not overlook the individual department. Many, many mathematics departments offer grants and scholarships exclusively to their majors. To begin research, check the department’s website and the college’s general financial aid page.
Through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, the National Science Foundation (NSF) provides funds to colleges and universities to enable them to assist students majoring in math and the sciences. For each year of scholarship support, the student agrees to teach for two years in a high-need school. These valuable scholarships are available through the individual college or university. The NSF also sponsors funding for undergraduates through its S-STEM program, as well as Graduate Research Fellowships. Each college’s financial aid office will have full details of which NSF programs they participate in.
Grants and Funding for Math Students through Professional Organizations
Professional associations and organizations are extremely important sources of funding for math students at all levels. Virtually any profession which requires, or could be open to someone with, a math degree has a professional association which offers funding to students are various stages of their studies. Many of these awards are designed to encourage women or minorities to study mathematics or are tailored for students planning to enter a particular profession. Here is a sample list of available opportunities:
- The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (www.aises.org) offers grants and scholarships to American Indians, Alaska Natives and Hawaiian Natives styding math, science, engineering, medical and natural resources management.
- The Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology (www.dfbsstscholarship.org) offers funding to students at historically black colleges.
- Women in Defense (www.wid.ndia.org) offers scholarships to women who are college juniors majoring in a number of fields, including math. Applicants should be interested in working in national defense or national security in the public or private sector.
- The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (www.shpefoundation.org) offers a number of funding opportunities for Hispanic students majoring in math.
- The Mathematics Education Trust of the national Council of Teachers of mathematics (www.nctm.org) offers two funding opportunities to undergraduates who plan to teach math at the middle and high school levels.
- The Actuarial Foundation (www.actuarialfoundation.org) awards a number of scholarships each year.
- The Society of Manufacturing Engineers offers a number of funding opportunities through its foundation (www.smeef.org). Many of these opportunities apply to math students, and almost all are open to undergraduates or high school students preparing to enter college.
- Each year the Gates Millennium Scholars Program (www.gmsp.org) awards grants and scholarships to 1,000 minority students to study math, computer science and a number of other fields in which minorities are underrepresented.
As this list demonstrates, students should think creatively and keep an open mind when they are researching organizations which might present them with a grant or scholarship opportunity for their mathematics education.