Alexander Lauds Creation of Frist SMART Grants to Encourage Math and Science Studies

Posted on December 21, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Education subcommittee, today praised final Senate passage of legislation that funds a new scholarship program aimed at encouraging college-aged upperclassmen to pursue math and science studies. The brainchild of Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grants (National SMART Grants) program will provide grants of up to $4,000 to Pell Grant-eligible students in their third and fourth academic year of undergraduate education at a four-year, degree-granting institution of higher education. The student must be pursuing a major in the physical, life, or computer sciences, math, technology, or engineering or a foreign language, and must also have a grade-point average of at least 3.0. The program is funded for $3.75 billion over the next five years. “Other than the war on terror, keeping our brain power advantage so we can create new jobs here in the United States, and keep our jobs from going to China, India, Finland, and Ireland, is the biggest challenge we face as a nation,” Alexander said. “I commend my colleague from Tennessee, Bill Frist, for his vision and leadership on the SMART Grants program. He proposed SMART Grants in July, and he has fought tirelessly throughout the budget process for this outstanding program, which is an important first step in getting more of America’s students to major in science and technology fields.” Alexander said SMART grants are consistent with the recommendations contained in the National Academies’ Augustine Report, which recommends 20 actions, including improving higher education, to help the United States meet the challenges of the global economy. “I look forward to working with the Majority Leader next year to implement the Augustine Report recommendations to continue this good work to maintain America’s competitive edge,” Alexander added. The SMART Grants legislation passed the Senate today as part of the Omnibus Deficit Reduction Act.