SEATTLE – Students in Washington can earn up to $22,500 in college scholarships and additional professional development and mentoring opportunities—if they act fast.

The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) application is available now and the February 28 deadline is just around the corner.

The unique program supports low- and middle-income students from Washington state who are pursuing high-demand bachelor’s degrees in science, tech, engineering, math (STEM) and health care fields at in-state institutions. Recipients can renew their scholarship awards, which vary in amount depending on total earned credits, for up to four additional years.

“In our well-resourced state, too many students face barriers that prevent them from a shot at attending college and landing a high-salaried, high-demand job,” said Naria K. Santa Lucia, executive director of Washington State Opportunity Scholarship. “It’s vital we actively attract more students to pursue degrees in these fields and ensure that young people, regardless of financial status, will have an opportunity to secure a vibrant future in Washington’s innovation economy.”

In addition to scholarship funding, the program offers a variety of professional development and industry exploration opportunities, as well as mentorship programming and other support to help students to successfully advance in their major, graduate on-time and launch their careers in Washington.

Students must be residents of Washington, have at least a 2.75 grade-point average, be majoring or planning to major in an eligible science, technology, engineering, math or health care field, have family income no more than 125 percent of the median family income (currently up to $108,500 for a family of four), and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WAFSA). Complete eligibility and the 2017-18 application are available at waopportunityscholarship.org.

In April, 1,850 new students will be selected to join the program and receive funding this fall.

WSOS began in 2011 when private business and the State Legislature came together to address both the STEM skills gap in our state’s leading industries and rising tuition costs that continue to keep college out of reach for many Washington families.

Under HB 2088, this unique public-private partnership was launched, with founding sponsors Microsoft and Boeing pledging a combined $50 million, and a commitment from the State to match dollar-for-dollar the private funds raised. In total, more than $97 million has been raised from the private sector.

To date, WSOS has awarded more than 6,800 students from across the state. Students hail from every county and legislative district in Washington. Fifty-seven percent are female and more than half identity as students of color. Fifty-nine percent of recipients are the first in their family to go to college.