A West Virginia scholarship program celebrates 10 years.
At a time when student loan debt has reached a record high, surpassing both credit card and auto loan debt in the U.S., West Virginia is keeping the promise it made 10 years ago to help students keep college costs under control.
In 2002, West Virginia made a bold move to create and fund the PROMISE Scholarship, a merit-based program providing assistance with tuition and fees to West Virginia’s college-bound seniors.
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the program, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin held a reception at the Governor’s Mansion on May 29, 2012. PROMISE scholars, representatives of West Virginia’s higher ed institutions, and public officials came together to share the success of the program. “Ten years ago, West Virginia made a promise to its young people: if you work hard, earn good grades, and fully commit to pursuing a college education in our state, we will help you pay for a college education,” Governor Tomblin says.
PROMISE boasts some impressive results. Over the course of the program, PROMISE has provided nearly $315 million for tuition and fees to more than 32,000 students, 30 percent of which come from low-income families. PROMISE scholars come from every West Virginia county, and they have attended every public two-year, public four-year, and independent non-profit institution in the state. West Virginia is one of the few states that invests equally in merit-based financial aid, with PROMISE, and need-based financial aid, through grants. Overall, West Virginia ranks fifth in the nation in providing financial aid per full-time undergraduate student.
A research study done at Columbia University found that receiving PROMISE increased students’ likelihood of completing college by 7 percent, compared to students who did not receive the scholarship. A study by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research found that 60 percent of PROMISE scholar graduates are working in West Virginia.
Governor Tomblin reiterates the importance of PROMISE to the state’s economy. “To meet workforce demands and grow our economy, West Virginia needs additional qualified college graduates,” he says. “The PROMISE Scholarship is a valuable tool in helping keep young, bright West Virginians active in our local communities and across our great state.”
The PROMISE Scholarship Program can be utilized at all public two-year and four-year institutions of higher education in West Virginia and at many private colleges and universities in the state. To receive PROMISE, students must obtain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, an overall ACT score of 22, and a score of at least 20 in each of four ACT subject areas. More information is available at cfwv.com.