Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation today announced the opening of a competitive student loan reimbursement program for recent graduates working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and certain design fields.
"A thriving STEM workforce is vital to jumpstarting our economic comeback," said Raimondo. "We are taking steps to keep our most 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."
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 for up to four years.
"This program will give our companies a competitive edge and give our graduates needed assistance," said R.I. Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Companies consistently tell us that it's a top priority for them to attract a skilled work force in the STEM and design fields. By building an ever stronger pipeline of candidates, we will give companies that are considering expansion or relocation in Rhode Island confidence that they can access top-notch tech and design talent in our state."
"Encouraging students educated in the STEM 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 will help 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," said Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), who introduced the 2015 legislation to establish the fellowship.
"In addition to encouraging companies in growing fields to come to Rhode Island and helping Rhode Islanders to train for careers in those fields, this program will also help to relieve participants – both young people and those who go back to school to pursue a new career – from the heavy burdens of student loan debt, which can be a big obstacle. Having that weight off their shoulders for the first few years of their new career will help them get on their feet and will also free up that portion of their income so they can buy the goods and services they need, pumping more money into our local economy," said Senator Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln.) "This program is helping both our economy and our citizens get ahead."
Building a 21st century workforce The Wavemaker Fellowship will be available to graduates who have incurred student loan debt during the completion of an associate's, bachelor'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 bachelor's degree holders, and $1,000 for associate's degree holders.
The program is part of the Governor's broader effort to attract and train a workforce with the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy including CS4RI, P-TECH and the Ocean State Grad Grant.
Creating a strong business environment The Wavemaker Fellowship provides Rhode Island companies an advantage in retaining and recruiting talented STEM-field professionals. The Fellowship will also serve as a tool to attract businesses to relocate to Rhode Island.
The Wavemaker Fellowship program was passed by the General Assembly in 2015 as part of the Governor's Jobs Plan.
To apply for the Wavemaker Fellowship, please visit wavemaker.commerceri.com. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 401-278-9100.