The PERSIST Scholars Program
PLEASE NOTE: The federal grant that supported the PERSIST program has expired. Although we have applied to renew the grant, we have not heard back from the NSF. Therefore, we are unable to say at this point whether or not the PERSIST Scholars Program at TCNJ will continue in the future.
The PERSIST Scholars Program (Program to Enhance Retention of Students In Science Trajectories in Biology and Chemistry) is funded by a $600,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to TCNJ in 2008. This program was created to increase the retention of economically disadvantaged students majoring in biology or chemistry at TCNJ. In addition to providing scholarships of up to $10,000 per student per year (through the 2012-2013 academic year), the program provides enhanced student support services with the goal of increasing the number of students from under-served groups who will seek careers in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). [Please note: TCNJ is applying for a renewal of this grant for an additional 5 years, but scholarships for participating students cannot be guaranteed beyond the 2012-2013 academic year].
PERSIST Scholars receive scholarships, as well as a range of support services including a faculty mentor and a peer mentor (a junior or senior student in the scholar's major). The two mentors provide advice, guidance, and encouragement to the Scholar. Studies have shown that a close association with a faculty mentor and a peer mentor dramatically increases the academic success and retention of a student in the sciences. In addition, each PERSIST Scholar is provided with a personal tutor for core science and math courses. Finally, all members of the PERSIST Scholar community participate in workshops, seminars, career counseling and social events that prepare students for careers in science and will help them become active members of the science community at TCNJ.
The amount of the scholarship awarded to each scholar will depend on the student’s unmet financial need (not counting loans and work study). The goal is to provide scholarships up to 75% of unmet need, up to the maximum allowed by the NSF—$10,000 per year. The exact amount of each scholarship also will be affected by the number of scholars accepted into the program. The scholarship money does not have to be repaid by the student. These scholarships are renewable up through the 4th year in college, provided that the Scholar continues to meet the Retention Criteria. As mentioned above, scholarships currently are available through the 2012-2013 academic year only.) Once a student has been selected as a finalist, the director of the program will be able to discuss the exact amount of the scholarship.
Only students who have been accepted as a regular Biology or Chemistry major (including those following the teaching track) are eligible. Non-matriculated students, students with undeclared majors, students in Open Option Science, or students in other majors are not eligible--even if they intend to transfer into biology or chemistry in the future. In addition, applicants must be a citizen of the United States, National of the United States (as defined in Section 101 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act), an alien admitted as refugee under Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. This program is intended for students who are entering their first semester at TCNJ (either as entering freshmen or as transfer students from a community college).
An in-coming freshman must first have received a letter from the TCNJ Office of Admissions indicating acceptance into either the biology or chemistry major before the student can submit an application to the PERSIST program. For those students who have been accepted into the College, the primary criterion for eligibility to apply to the PERSIST program is financial need. Students may demonstrate financial need with one of the following criteria:
- Abbott School District Residence -- Any student from an Abbott School District in New Jersey is automatically eligible to apply. For a list of Abbott School districts, go to http://www.njra.us/njra/cwp/view.asp?a=3&Q=453505&njraNav=|27930|.
- Expected Family Contribution -- Any student with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of less than $12,000 is eligible to apply. A student's EFC may be determined in one of two ways:
- FAFSA -- After completing and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, each student receives a report of their EFC. Keep a copy of this to include with your PERSIST application. To complete a FAFSA, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- College Board EFC Calculator -- A student may obtain an estimated EFC by using the College Board EFC Calculator. However, in order to be eligible for consideration as a finalist, any student who is not a resident of an Abbott School District must complete and submit a FAFSA. The EFC estimator is available at http://apps.collegeboard.com/fincalc/efc_welcome.jsp.
Transfer Students from NJ Community Colleges
A small number of transfer students with Associate's degrees from a New Jersey community college will be accepted into the program. Students must be accepted for admission to TCNJ as a regular Biology or Chemistry major and must meet both the criteria outlined above for demonstrating financial need and the GPA requirements described in the Retention Criteria link.
For all applicants: Please note that eligibility of a student to apply does not guarantee that a student will be awarded a scholarship. Furthermore, all required documentation must be received by the TCNJ Office of Student Financial Services before a finalist can be accepted as a PERSIST Scholar. The sum of all grants and scholarships received by a student may not exceed the published Cost of Attendance for TCNJ. Because the intent of the scholarships is to allow scholars to devote more time to studying and engaging in activities in their major, scholarship recipients will be restricted to 15 hours of work study or outside employment per week during the academic semester.
1. You must complete the Intent to Apply Form. (* - See note below.)
2. Complete the PERSIST application form. Please follow all of the instructions carefully, and note the deadlines. (Students who currently are sophomores or juniors at TCNJ must wait until invited to apply at the end of the spring semester.)
3. Begin work immediately to file your FAFSA: www.fafsa.ed.gov.
* - Students (biology and chemistry majors) who do not have access to the internet or to a computer printer or who do not have an e-mail account may call the TCNJ Department of Biology (609-771-2356) during business hours to receive a PERSIST Application Form by mail. (All information requested on the Intent to Apply Form also will be collected over the telephone at that time.)
In-coming freshmen and transfer students from community colleges may apply as soon as they have received a letter of acceptance for admission to TCNJ. March 1st is the priority deadline for receipt of completed applications to the PERSIST Scholarship Program. Students should complete and submit their FAFSA by March 15th. Applications will be accepted after those dates on a space-available basis.
The selection of PERSIST Scholars will be based upon financial need, motivation of the student to pursue a career in science, academic record, and likelihood of successful completion of a degree in biology or chemistry. Finalists will be invited to the TCNJ campus for a personal interview. In general, scholarships are awarded to students with an EFC of less than $12,000.