State officials had expected about 2,000 Maryland high school seniors would qualify for a new scholarship for science and technology majors who agree to stay in Maryland after graduation, but the number ended up to be about 700. The result is that just $1.9 million of the $5.1 million set aside for the 1999-2000 school year will be handed out this year.

Patricia Florestano, the state’s secretary of higher education, said about 1,600 students applied for the scholarships that pay $3,000 a year toward tuition costs. But more than half were ineligible because they did not maintain a “B” average or better while in high school.

As of May, 690 scholarships had been approved, but a few more might be awarded, Florestano said. She said the state scholarship agency will try to determine why more students did not apply and what can be done next year to increase the number.

The pool of applicants might have fallen short of expectations in part because of the difficulty of science and technology majors, and in part because applicants have to pay back the money unless they work one year in Maryland for each year they get a scholarship, she added.

The science and technology scholarship was proposed by Gov. Parris Glendening last year in an effort to boost the state’s technology work force, and the first awards were made this spring.