New ECenter program will help UNH students earn money toward college loans

Thursday, January 26, 2017
Matt Griswold '18 works at the UNH Makerspace in the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center or ECenter.

The UNH Makerspace, one of the places where students can get their innovation passports stamped for the chance to earn money toward their student loans under the new i2 Passport program.

Three UNH students will get a jump on the biggest issue facing many college graduates today even before they don their caps and gowns. A new program out of UNH's Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter) offers undergraduates the chance to win money to help pay student loans just for being curious.

The soon-to-be launched Idea and Innovation Passport (i2 Passport) program seeks to engage students from any major in activities related to ideas, innovation, and entrepreneurship as a way to expand their critical thinking and problem solving skills. For every activity students participate in, they will receive a stamp in their “passport.” The student with the most stamps by May 8 will receive $8,000 toward their student loan debt.

The student with the most stamps by May 8 will receive $8,000 toward their student loan debt.

The remaining qualifying students (those with the minimum amount of stamps, or credits) will be eligible for a $3,500 cash reward. A second drawing, also for $3,500, will be held for undergraduates who are first-generation college students.

Qualifying activities include, among others, attending speaker events, boot camps, and the i2 Passport kickoff event Feb. 12, utilizing the ECenter and Makerspace, entering the Holloway Competition, and majoring or minoring in entrepreneurship. 

Ian Grant, director of the ECenter, says they are looking beyond those students who would already be inclined to explore this path. “We want the artists, the French majors, the engineers, the business students, the health and nursing majors. Seeing problems and finding solutions is an essential tool that should be in every student’s toolbox,” Grant says.

While the cash prizes are enticing, the real goal, Grant says, is to expose students to situations that help them see problems and learn to solve them.

“If we’re looking for students to leave UNH with one thing in their toolbox, that’s it,” Grant says.  “Whether it’s a student at the horse barns who is tired of the horseshoe coming off in the mud and has figured out a way to solve the problem or someone going to work at a startup company, in attending these kinds of activities, somewhere along the way, a light bulb might go off and they’ll think, “hey, maybe I’ve got a solution to that problem.’”

Students must register to participate in i2 Passport.

Funding for the pilot program comes from alumnus Harry Patten ’58, who donated $50,000 to the ECenter to start i2 Passport as well as a new internship program. The Paid Student Internship at Startups will place four students with startup companies for 10 weeks this summer. Interns will earn $4,500.

The Wildcatalysts Network also provided support for i2 Passport.


Scott Ripley | UNH Marketing | | 603-862-1855