- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - More West Virginia high school seniors are qualifying for the state’s PROMISE scholarship and the graduate rate of recipients is higher than the general student body’s rate, a Higher Education Policy Commission official said.

About 71 percent of PROMISE scholars earned bachelor’s degrees within six years. During the same period, about 48 percent of all students earned bachelor’s degrees, said Brian Weingart, senior director of financial aid for the Higher Education Policy Commission.

Weingart gave lawmakers an update on the PROMISE program on Monday during legislative interim meetings, The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1x4n0wr) reported.

He said 10,036 students received PROMISE scholarships in the 2012-2013 academic year, an increase of 702 students from the 2008-2009 academic year.

The merit-based PROMISE scholarship pays up to $4,750 for tuition and mandatory fees for in-state students who maintained at least a 3.0 grade average in high school and scored a composite 22 score on the ACT or a combined 1020 score on the SAT college entrance exams. Students must maintain a 3.0 average in college to keep the scholarship.

Fifteen percent of first-year PROMISE recipients in 2012-2013 came from households with incomes from $30,000 or less, while more than 44 percent came from households with incomes of $90,000 or more, Weingart said.

More than 43 percent of PROMISE recipients, or 4,363, attended West Virginia University in 2012-2013. Marshall had the second-highest number of recipients, 1,810, or 18 percent of the total.

At WVU, 57.9 percent of the in-state freshman class of 2012-2013 was PROMISE recipients. PROMISE recipients made up 38.1 percent of the freshman class at Marshall and 33.9 percent of the freshman class at Shepherd University.

Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, said he would like to see a mechanism allowing students who did not qualify in high school to earn the scholarship while in college.

James Skidmore, chancellor of the Community and Technical College System, said few scholarships are available to students who transfer from two-year to four-year colleges.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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