If you like mountains, West Virginia is the state for you. In fact, it’s the only state completely nestled within the Appalachian Mountains.

If you also enjoy top-notch college financial aid programs, West Virginia is the state for you as well.

The Mountain State has numerous college financial aid programs to help its residents afford to attend an in-state college. Some of those programs include the West Virginia Promise Scholarship; the West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship Program; the West Virginia Education Grant; and the West Virginia Health Sciences Service Program.

West Virginia Promise Scholarship

The West Virginia Promise Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship for West Virginia residents and it can be renewed annually for each year of a student’s college education.

To initially be eligible to receive the Promise Scholarship, a student must:

  • Complete and submit the Promise Scholarship application;
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);
  • Reside in West Virginia for 12 continuous months preceding the application deadline (March 1st);
  • Graduate from a West Virginia public or private high school and have at least half of the student’s high school credits come from a West Virginia high school;
  • Graduate with a minimum, cumulative 3.00 high school GPA on a 4.00 scale in core classes AND overall coursework;
  • Complete required core class credits from a specific, designated class list including:
    • 4 credits in English,
    • 4 credits in math,
    • 4 credits in social sciences, and
    • 3 credits in natural sciences;
  • Score a 22 or higher on the ACT with a minimum of a 20 in the English, math, science and reading sections; and
  • Score a 1100 or higher on the SAT with a minimum of a 520 score on the math section and a 530 score on the evidence-based reading section.

In order for a student to renew their eligibility for the award every academic year, the student does not need to re-submit the Promise Scholarship application, but they do need to submit their FAFSA every year. Additional Promise Scholarship renewal requirements are to:

  • Maintain a minimum, cumulative 2.75 GPA on a 4.00 scale during the student’s first year of college AND then a minimum, cumulative 3.00 GPA in subsequent years,
  • Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours in each 12-month period for a student who receives a 2-semester award in an academic year OR complete a minimum of 15 credit hours in a semester if a student receives a single-semester award, and
  • Remain continuously enrolled as a full-time student.

On the flip side, a student is not required to be full-time or meet renewal criteria during the student’s final year of scholarship eligibility. It’s also important to keep in mind that students cannot regain eligibility if they fall out of eligibility contention.

If a student is chosen to receive Promise Scholarship funding, they can receive up to $4,750 to cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees at an eligible public or independent West Virginia postsecondary institution. The award amount varies yearly though based on the annual funding of the program by the West Virginia State Legislature.

West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship Program

The West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship Program is designed to enable and encourage academically-talented West Virginia students to pursue careers in the engineering, science and technology fields.

The goal of the program is to encourage West Virginia students to graduate from West Virginia postsecondary institutions and get jobs in these important fields in West Virginia.

To be eligible for this scholarship program, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien,
  • Complete and submit the West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship Program application,
  • Graduate high school with a cumulative 3.00 GPA or higher on a 4.00 scale OR a have a cumulative 3.00 college GPA on a 4.00 scale after completion of 2 semesters of coursework at an eligible, postsecondary institution,
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an engineering, science or technology program leading to a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree at an eligible postsecondary institution, and
  • Agree to work full-time in an engineering, science or technology field in West Virginia for one year for each year the scholarship was received.

An eligible student must also agree and be willing to repay the scholarship PLUS interest and any required collection fees if the student fails to fulfill the work-portion of the requirements.

Recipients of the Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship can receive up to $3,000 per academic year, though funding varies based on the allotment from the West Virginia State Legislature.

West Virginia Higher Education Grant

The West Virginia Higher Education Grant is a need-based financial aid program to help West Virginia students afford to attend either eligible West Virginia postsecondary institutions OR select Pennsylvania postsecondary institutions. The goal of the grant is to provide funding for as many West Virginia students who need it as possible.

There is no formal application for the Higher Education Grant, but to be eligible for it, a student must:

  • Complete and file their FAFSA,
  • Be a West Virginia resident and live in the state for at least 12 months prior to submitting FAFSA,
  • Be a U.S. citizen,
  • Be a West Virginia high school graduate or have a West Virginia GED/equivalent,
  • Demonstrate an established level of financial need,
  • Demonstrate academic promise,
  • Enroll at a participating West Virginia or Pennsylvania postsecondary institution as a full-time, undergraduate student, and
  • Have not previously earned a bachelor’s degree.

The award amount for recipients varies from year to year based on the number of applicants and their financial need as well as available funding provided by the West Virginia State Legislature.

The grant can be renewed annually until a student’s degree program has been completed, but a student may not renew it after four total years of receiving the award.

A student can also transfer the award from one eligible institution to another if the student decides to switch schools during the course of their college career.

West Virginia Health Sciences Service Program

The West Virginia Health Sciences Service Program is not a financial aid scholarship, but it is a loan repayment program.

This program is for healthcare students who are interested in practicing their craft in underserved West Virginia communities.

Each academic year, there are 15 awards put together for West Virginia students enrolled in healthcare education degree programs. These awards include a $30,000 package for medical and dental students or a $15,000 package for students training to become:

  • Nurse educators,
  • Nurse midwives,
  • Nurse practitioners,
  • Occupational therapists,
  • Pharmacists,
  • Physical therapists,
  • Physician assistants,
  • Clinical psychologists,
  • Public health practitioners, and
  • Clinical social workers.

To apply for the program, a student must:

  • Complete and submit the Health Sciences Service Program application (check back to the website for the newest academic year application),
  • Have at least 2 recommendation forms completed and
  • Have the Certification of Educational Status postmarked by October 15 before the academic year for which the student applies (i.e. the 2021-2022 application needed to be submitted by October 15, 2020).

To be eligible for the program, a student must fall into one of these healthcare categories:

  • Be a 4th-year medical student who is entering a primary care or emergency medicine residency program in West Virginia.
    • Includes family medicine, geriatrics, general internal medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, preventative medicine or psychiatry.
  • Be a student in the final year of a graduate or doctoral program for the purpose of becoming a nurse educator, nurse midwife, nurse practitioner or occupational therapist.
  • Be a student who is in the final year of a graduate program to become a physician assistant or be in the field of public health.
  • Be a student in the final year of a doctoral program in dentistry, pharmacy or physical therapy.
  • Be a student in the final year of a graduate social work program which will lead to a career as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.
  • Be a student in the final year of a doctoral clinical psychology program who intends to enter a clinical internship in West Virginia.

There’s also a service obligation a student must fulfill in order to be eligible for the Health Sciences Service Program. To meet the service obligation, a student must:

  • Work full-time (40 hours per week) for two years OR
  • Work part-time (20 hours per week) for four years at an eligible West Virginia practice site.
  • Secure a practice site within 6 months of completing training.
    • Cannot be in an emergency room or walk-in clinic.
    • Cannot be as a hospital inpatient position.

The penalty is severe for not completing the service obligation. If a student fails to fulfill it, the student will need to repay the award amount PLUS 15% interest on the award.

Major Colleges in West Virginia

There are many schools to choose from when it comes to attending a West Virginia postsecondary institution. West Virginia students can choose to attend a community college or technical school, a private college or university and/or a four-year, public college or university.

Some of the major postsecondary institutions in West Virginia include:

  • Bluefield State College in Bluefield,
  • Concord University in Athens,
  • Fairmont State University in Fairmont,
  • Glenville State College in Glenville,
  • Marshall University in Huntington,
  • West Virginia State University in Institute,
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown, and
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Beckley.

If mountain life and great college financial aid programs are intriguing to you, then it’s time to start learning about how becoming a West Virginia resident can help better your life in the long run.