SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Registration for the fall semester is open and University of South Carolina Upstate has nearly $2 million of scholarship money for students interested in science, technology, engineering or math.

There is a critical need for workers in the STEM field and through several scholarships, USC Upstate is making an effort to fill those roles with their own students.

There are two scholarship programs for STEM students at USC Upstate.

One is the Career Readiness to Inspire STEM Proficiency and Retention (CRISPR) program and it’s main goal is to boost recruitment, retention and graduation of STEM students.

“I like to say program because it’s not just money but it’s also an experience that our students will have,” said Dr. Astrid Rosario, Associate Professor of Chemistry.

The CRISPR program gives out $8,100 a year to two groups of seven first year students which starts in fall of 2023 and another in fall of 2024.

On top of the money, the university has six companies as of right now committed to mentoring these students during their junior and senior years.

“That’s going to be critical,” said Dr. Rosario. “Because as a faculty person, I’ve been out of the career field for so long I don’t know what those current skills are for our students to be successful.”

While there is a need for STEM workers right now, there is going to be even more of a demand in the next six years.

“The U.S. Labor cites that by 2029 the STEM workforce will increase by eight percent,” said Dr. Rosario. “That’s twice the rate of all other occupations.”

There is a wide range of jobs students can work towards, whether that’s environmental, pharmaceutical or even textile but there is also a need for math and science teachers.

That’s where the NSF Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship comes into play.

“They get two degrees out of this grant,” said Dr. Stephen Bismarck Associate Professor of Math Education. “They get their math, biology or chemistry degree as well as a degree in secondary education.”

The grant was awarded to the school in 2020 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and totals $1.2 million and is available until 2025.

Participating students can have their schooling completely covered.

“Students can take advantage of it any time in those five years,” said Dr. Bismarck. “Typically, students will need two to three years to finish it out and it’ll fund two to three years completely.”

This scholarship can be for anyone who meets the qualifications, it doesn’t matter if you have a bachelor’s degree already, are a transfer student, or someone looking to change fields.

The main goal is to attract local students and get them jobs in a field that is rapidly growing and in desperate need for employees.

Applications for the CRISPR and Noyce Scholarship can be found on USC Upstate’s website.