Promise Scholarship amount, requirements change; more accessible for students
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission approved temporary changes to the Promise Scholarship award amount and eligibility requirements for 2022 and 2023 graduates.
The scholarship was raised to $5,000, making this the first increase to the amount since it was set at $4,750 in 2009.
“To come out of school with a little less debt, or none at all is exciting for students as well, so they don’t have to have that long term paying the debt back,” said Bradley Johnson, lead counselor at Wayne County Schools.
These adjustments come as students continue working academically to overcome challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d see the tuitions of some places and I’d think that’s totally out of reach. There’s no way I’m going to be able to pay for this but with the Promise Scholarship and just other outside scholarships offered through the school, I feel like anything is obtainable,” said Cade Cole, a senior at Spring Valley High School.
Brain Weingart, senior director of financial aid for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said these changes were made when they saw the number of students who would qualify was much lower than previous years.
Before the changes were made, about 1,600 seniors qualified for the scholarship.
“That tracking way below where we’d normally be. Usually by the time we get to April we are around 3,000 usually by the end of the summer 3,600,” Weingart said. “We’re probably 500 to 600 short of where we would normally be with the same test scores.”
The WV HPEC also lowered test scores 2022-23 graduates must achieve for the Promise Scholarship:
- ACT composite score – 21 (regularly 22); ACT English score – 19 (regularly 20); ACT Reading score – 19 (regularly 20); ACT Science score – 19 (regularly 20); ACT Math score – 19 (regularly 20).
- SAT composite score – 1080 (regularly 1100); SAT Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing score – 510 (regularly 530); SAT Math score – 510 (regularly 520).
These students also qualify for super-scoring to achieve the minimum standardized testing scores necessary to qualify for the Promise Scholarship.
“I feel like that takes off a lot of pressure, even though it’s just one point on the composite and one lower in each sub score,” Cole said.
Super-scoring allows students to take their top scores from sub-sections of different ACT or SAT tests they’ve taken and combine them for a higher overall score. The eligibility criteria are the same as those approved last year for the class of 2021.
“To drop the composite by one point and the sub scores by one point just expands that opportunity to limit the barriers for students,” Jordan said. “They’ve had so many things in and out of school, so many barriers that they can’t control and this just provides that little bit of excitement that maybe I can get the promise scholarship.”
“Students have been working so hard to stay on track for their futures, and we want to give them every opportunity to access the support they need to continue their education,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education. “With these changes, we hope students and their families have greater peace of mind as they plan for college over the next couple years.”
For the class of 2022, the Promise application and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are due by March 1, 2022. The Promise Scholarship application is available at collegeforwv.com/promise. The FAFSA is free and available through the U.S. Department of Education at fafsa.gov. Students have until July 2022 to qualify using ACT test scores, and until June 2022 to qualify using SAT scores.
The Promise Scholarship is a merit-based financial aid program for West Virginia high school graduates planning to attend one of the state’s public or independent two- or four-year institutions.
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