UCSB Engineering


Enhanced Support, Training and Experiences for Engineering Majors

Scholarships for First Generation College Students in Engineering

Principal Investigator: Professor Susannah Scott

Funded by the National Science Foundation, this S-STEM (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program at UC Santa Barbara started in 2011. The goal of the ESTEEM program is to enhance the graduation rates of first-generation college students majoring in Engineering.

Who is a first-generation college student? any student for whom no parent has earned a 4-year college degree. This includes students whose parents never attended college, or who attended only a 2-year college, or who attended a 4-year college but did not graduate.

Why are these scholarships intended only for first-generation college (FGC) students? FGC students have significantly lower college completion rates than continuing-generation college students, for a variety of reasons. One of the most important is a lack of financial resources, hindering their ability to focus their efforts on their college coursework. Another issue is less familiarity with college culture and strategies for success in academic pursuits.

What benefits do ESTEEM scholars receive? The scholarships can range from $2,000 up to $9,500 per academic year, depending on the financial need of the student, but the benefits go well beyond scholarships. ESTEEM scholars are also eligible for:

  1. personalized tutoring in engineering subjects
  2. access to a quiet study area
  3. frequent, informal contacts with Professors and key College of Engineering staff members
  4. intensive assistance in finding engineering-related internships
  5. financial support to attend a professional meeting in your discipline
  6. opportunities to mentor lower-division engineering students
  7. assistance with graduate school and employment applications

Do I qualify? In order to be eligible, you must be:

  1. a first-generation college student
  2. enrolled full-time in one of the undergraduate degree programs offered by the College of Engineering (Chemical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering)
  3. a US citizen or Permanent Resident

You must also have:

  1. a cumulative college GPA of at least 2.8
  2. at least junior status, at the time of the award
  3. demonstrated financial need, as defined by Department of Education rules for need-based Federal financial aid (the cost of attendance minus the estimated family contribution)

Are the scholarships renewable? Yes. If you become an ESTEEM scholar, your scholarship will be automatically renewed for a second year, provided you still meet all the eligibility criteria.

How do I apply? The process involves an initial written application and an interview. To apply, supply the following documents:

  1. A signed cover letter containing the following statement (use appropriate selections): “I confirm that I meet all of the eligibility criteria for the ESTEEM Scholars program. As of Fall Quarter 2014, I will be a US citizen/permanent resident and a full-time student majoring in (Chemical Engineering/Computer Engineering/Computer Science/Electrical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering) at UCSB with (junior/senior) status. None of my parents has earned a four-year college degree. My cumulative GPA is (insert GPA). I give the UCSB Financial Aid Office permission to disclose my financial need for the sole purpose of establishing my level of scholarship eligibility in the ESTEEM Scholars program. I understand that all of my personal information will be kept strictly confidential.”
  2. An essay (typed, single-spaced, maximum 1 page) about your experience to date as a college student, including a description of any obstacles you have faced and/or overcome, your career goals, and the impact you believe the scholarship will have on your studies.
  3. An unofficial copy of your UCSB transcript, and any other college transcripts.

You must also ask a non-relative, preferably a college instructor, to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf to esteem [at] engineering [dot] ucsb [dot] edu (email) or the College of Engineering Undergraduate Student Office (hard copy). All application materials must be received by the College of Engineering Undergraduate Student Office by 4 pm on October 17, 2014, for scholarships starting in Fall Quarter 2014.

Based on review of the written applications, finalists will be invited for a personal interview.

For more information: send an email to esteem [at] engineering [dot] ucsb [dot] edu