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Patrick launches $2m in scholarships for needed degrees

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By Peter Schworm
In a renewed effort to boost the number of college graduates in fast-growing fields, Massachusetts has awarded $2 million in scholarships to public college students pursuing degrees in science, business, and health care.
The initiative, the first time the state has broadly encouraged ­career choices through financial aid, seeks to help students complete their education and enter professions that often face critical shortages of skilled employees.
Governor Deval Patrick will formally announce the program at a ceremony Tuesday at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Out of some 5,000 applicants, 800 students across the state learned last week they had received as much as $3,250 for this semester to defray their tuition and fees.
Patrick has encouraged greater cooperation between colleges and the business community in hope of training more workers to compete in a high-skills economy.
Many students begin college with plans to major in engineering, computer science, and other high-demand fields. But a substantial number wind up struggling academically, sometimes switching fields or dropping out altogether.
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