West Virginia’s school-choice scholarship program now accepts applications year-round

14 December 2023- State Treasurer Riley Moore, who serves as Chairman of the Hope Scholarship Board, today announced Board members have approved his proposal to accept Hope Scholarship Program applications from eligible students year-round.

“I’m thrilled the Board has approved my proposal to ensure all eligible West Virginia students and their families have access to the Hope Scholarship Program regardless of when they make the decision to exercise their school choice options,” Treasurer Moore said. “Now that the Hope Scholarship Program has been up and running for more than a full year, combined with the significant amount of interest we have seen from across the state, it was time to extend the window for families to apply for the program to the maximum extent possible.”

The Hope Scholarship Board on Tuesday, Dec. 12, approved a number of changes to the program’s legislative rules to improve the program, including a mandate for year-round application acceptance. The program’s prior legislative rule set the application period for new students to run from March 1 through May 15 each year unless extenuating circumstances existed to justify accepting a late application or the student was newly eligible for the program.

More than 6,000 students have been awarded the Hope Scholarship for the current 2023-2024 academic year – nearly triple the 2,333 students who received it the previous academic year.

While the program received more than 6,300 applications during this year’s new enrollment period, the Board learned some West Virginia families either weren’t aware of the program during the application period or made a school-choice decision after the application window had already closed.

“Although we’ve been working to raise awareness of program application deadlines, we understand that a student’s needs may change during the school year,” Treasurer Moore said. “Our Board action this week will ensure that eligible students will have a pathway to enter the program throughout the school year.”

To accommodate the year-round application window, the Board also adopted a policy to standardize proration amounts for students receiving less than a full-year funding amount, based on when the original application is submitted to the Board.

Under this new timetable which is effective beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, a student application submitted within the following dates will receive the associated level of Hope Scholarship funding:

  • March 1-June 15: 100% of Hope Scholarship annual award amount.
  • June 16-Sept. 15: 75% of Hope Scholarship annual award amount.
  • Sept. 16-Nov. 30: 50% of Hope Scholarship annual award amount.
  • Dec. 1-Feb. 28: 25% of Hope Scholarship annual award amount.

Any applications submitted after Feb. 28 would be processed on current student eligibility but participation and funding will not begin until the next school year. (These dates apply to new Hope Scholarship applications; existing Hope Scholarship recipients are required to submit renewal applications annually and will be able to do so beginning Jan. 3 each year to apply for the following academic year.)

This quarterly funding timetable is designed to allow for the year-round application process while also complying with state code that governs when funding transfers must take place.

The Hope Scholarship Act, passed by the Legislature in 2021, requires the Board to provide funds to Hope Scholarship students twice a year, with the first half of funds for an academic year provided by Aug. 15 and the remaining half provided by Jan. 15. Funds must be prorated for students participating for less than a full year.

The Hope Scholarship award amount varies each school year depending on the amount of state aid funding per pupil provided to county boards of education for public school students. The award amount for the 2023-24 year was $4,488.82.

The Hope Scholarship Program is an education savings account program available for kindergarten through 12th grade students. It is designed to allow parents and families to receive an amount equal to the state portion of their child’s education funding to tailor an individualized learning experience that works best for their child.

More information on the program is available at www.hopescholarshipwv.com.