West Virginia Student Grants for College
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Very few college-bound students have the financial resources to pay for their post-secondary education entirely out of pocket. With education costs continuing to rise, nearly every student will need to seek out some measure of financial aid to help them pay for college. In an effort to make college more accessible to students throughout the country, many states have developed grant and scholarship programs designed to provide financial support for residents who are pursuing their post-secondary education.
West Virginia supports a variety of grants for its resident students who are struggling to meet the costs of their college education. These programs are funded by the state, and are administered by the College Foundation of West Virginia. These grant programs help thousands of West Virginians every year find the extra money they need to supplement their education fund.
The Importance of the FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is step one in the search for financial aid for college. The FAFSA is used by both Federal and state governments to determine a student’s eligibility for any government sponsored financial aid for college. It is also used by most colleges and universities, as well as by independent scholarship and grant supporters, to determine a student’s eligibility for grants or scholarships, and to decide on final award allowances.
Students should make filling out and submitting their FAFSA a top priority before applying for any grants, scholarships or student loans to help them pay for college.
General Grants and Scholarships for West Virginia Residents
The West Virginia state legislature has earmarked funds for a variety of scholarships and grants designed to make college more accessible to its resident students. These programs are a combination of merit-based and need-based awards, and are only offered to current legal residents of the state who are enrolled, or preparing to enroll, in a state college or university. As with all state supported financial aid for college, programs are subject to changes in legislation and availability of funds.
- The West Virginia Higher Education Grant – This is a need-based program that provides financial assistance to financially disadvantaged residents who are struggling to meet the costs of their college education. To be eligible, students must be high school graduates who can demonstrate both a high level of academic achievement, and the requisite level of financial need. Students must also be enrolled, or preparing to enroll, in a participating college or university within the states of West Virginia or Pennsylvania. The maximum award amount is $2500 per year.
- The Higher Education Adult Part-Time Student Grant Program – This need-based grant is designed to provide financial support to college students who, whether by choice or necessity, are attending college on a part-time basis. To be eligible, students must be enrolled at an approved public college or university within the state. Award amounts vary, and are determined by the per credit hour tuition fees of the applicant’s school of attendance. This grant is renewable until the student’s program of study is completed, but may not exceed an additional nine years beyond the first year of qualification.
- The West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship – This is a merit-based award available to West Virginia high school seniors who have reached certain academic goals set by the state. While not mandatory, students applying for a PROMISE scholarship are urged to complete at least 20 hours of unpaid community service while in high school. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in a public college or university within the state. Final award values are determined by the applicant’s total cost of tuition, and may not exceed $4,750 per year.
Subject-Specific Grants and Scholarships in West Virginia
In addition to the general grants and scholarships offered by the state for its resident students, West Virginia also funds a number of subject-specific awards for students with specific educational or career goals. These programs support students who are pursuing degrees in certain high demand areas. In some cases, these are award-for-service programs and students will be required to complete a predetermined term of service working within the state in their chosen field.
- The West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship – This program provides financial support to students who are pursuing degrees in the all important STEM fields. To qualify for the award, students must have completed at least to semesters of coursework at an eligible college or university within the state, and must have maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students must agree to work full-time within the state in an engineering, science or technology field for one year in exchange for every year of scholarship funding received. Maximum annual awards are $3000.
- The Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program – This state funded program provides financial assistance to students pursuing careers as teachers at the pre-school, elementary, middle and secondary levels. Applicants must be enrolled full time at an accredited state college or university, and must be pursuing a course of study leading to a teaching certificate. The maximum annual award may not exceed $5000. This is an award-for-service program, and participants must agree to teach within the state following certification. Recipients of the award who fail to complete their service obligations will have their scholarship revert to a student loan, and will be responsible for the full repayment of the award plus interest.
- The West Virginia Health Sciences Scholarship Program – This is a recruitment incentive program designed to retain talented healthcare professionals within the state. The program is open to fourth year medical students, as well as students in their final year of a graduate program in physical therapy or clinical psychology. Students in their final year of a graduate program for nurse practitioners may also apply. Twenty-five scholarships are awarded every year, ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on course of study. This is an award-for-service program, and participants will be required to complete a predetermined term of service working within the state in exchange for their scholarship funding.
The government of West Virginia understands the importance of making college more accessible to its residents, and to that end have earmarked a portion of the state’s resources to encourage and support students in the college endeavors. West Virginians will find more information on grants and scholarships, as well as helpful tips on saving for college and managing an education fund, at the College Foundation of West Virginia.