West Virginia is known for beautiful scenery, but its higher education opportunities are also worth a look.
In 2018, West Virginia’s Climb was introduced, which is an information and outreach campaign with a goal of ensuring that at least 60% of the state’s workforce has a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2030.
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While the state already offers competitive schools, generous financial aid packages and plenty of online learning opportunities, it is especially focused on reaching students of all ages to help them recognize the value of higher education and training in long-term careers.
Overview of Higher Education in West Virginia
West Virginia is home to 42 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of the 42, 22 are public, 10 are private non-profit and 10 are private for-profit.
To attend one of the 4-year public institutions residents will pay around $8,016, while non-residents will pay around $21,996, according to the NCES. Both are well below the national averages ($1196 below for those in-state and $4286 for those out).
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For West Virginia residents who are unable to find their degree programs at in-state schools, the state partners with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). The program allows students to enroll at public schools in the other 15 participating states while paying in-state tuition rates.
About Online Colleges in West Virginia
In West Virginia, students are really taking advantage of learning opportunities at accredited online colleges. In 2018, the NCES reported that 41.6% of students in the state were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses , while another 16.4% were participating in a hybrid of on-campus and online courses.
This means that more students were enrolled in online learning programs than not. And the numbers have continued to rise in years since, as colleges have increased their online offerings. Today, West Virginia University offers more than 600 courses online. Students can choose from more than 36 degrees and 13 certificate programs, taught by award-winning professors and supported by tech support, enrollment coaches and academic advisors.
University of Charleston students have a variety of options, including an Associate’s in Frontline Leadership, or bachelors in one of 6 fields: Accounting, Management, Cyber Security, Nursing, Organizational Leadership and Psychology. Several master’s degree programs and a doctorate are also available in an online format.
Adults returning to school in West Virginia may want to consider the Regents Bachelor of Arts, an undergraduate program designed for working adults and available through many of the state’s institutions. This degree packages together previously earned credits, online classes and credit for real world experience. Online courses and schedules are cross-listed and accessible via West Virginia’s Remote Online Collaborative Knowledge System (WVROCKS).
Scholarships and Financial Aid in West Virginia
In order to receive financial aid for college in West Virginia, you will first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Even if you don’t think you will qualify for need-based aid, you should fill out the FAFSA. It can give you access to federal, state and even school-based aid, and may be required by the schools to which you are applying. Much of the aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis, so it’s important to apply early. The application will be available to you starting October 1st.
When filling out the FAFSA, you will be required to provide financial information for yourself and your parents (unless you are considered “independent”). The data that you include will be used to determine how much and what type of financial aid you qualify for.
As a West Virginian, you have a lot of financial aid resources available to you. The state sponsors the following programs for residents:
- Higher Education Adult Part-Time Student (HEAPS) Grant Program – Need-based aid for part-time students
- Medical Student Loan Program – Need-based aid for students pursuing a medical degree at certain schools
- Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship – Scholarship for students interested in pursuing a career as a West Virginia math, science, elementary education or special education teacher
- Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Loan Assistance Program – Loan program for students interested in pursuing a career in teaching or counseling in critical need subjects (as defined) and geographic locations
- West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship – For students interested in pursuing an education in engineering, science or technology; Up to $3,000 per year
- West Virginia Health Sciences Service Program – A service-obligation loan repayment program for health professions students interested in practicing in underserved communities
- West Virginia Higher Education Grant – Need-based aid for full-time students
- West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program – A range of scholarship/loan opportunities to assist current and future West Virginia nursing professionals with their education
- West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship – A merit-based scholarship for high school graduates who meet course and GPA requirements; Award is up to $4750
There are also private scholarships available for all sorts of things, including a student’s race, religion, gender, athletic or artistic abilities, unusual talents, intended major, and so on. Here are a few examples of scholarships open to West Virginia residents:
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship amount|
|Allegheny Mountain Section Air & Waste Management Assn. Scholarships||Varies|
|Gustavus B. Capito Scholarship||(3) $2000|
|James T. and Rose M. Perryman Family Foundation Scholarship||Up to $25,000|
|Kanawha Valley Mining Institute, Inc||(3) $2000|
To find more scholarships like these, you can use scholarship search sites like Fastweb.com. Just enter some basic demographic information and you will be matched up with dozens of scholarship opportunities.
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If you still need more financial aid, try reaching out to the financial aid office at the school you have chosen. They may have additional programs available – both need- and merit-based – and will work with you to make your education affordable.
List of Online Colleges in West Virginia
|Online Colleges in West Virginia||Annual Tuition||Application Fee|
|American Public University||$6,880||$0|
|Potomac State College of West Virginia University||$4,056||$0|
|Salem International University||$14,600||$20|
|West Virginia University||$7,992||$45|
|Wheeling Jesuit University||$28,110||$25|
West Virginia students have access to top-notch schools, excellent financial assistance, and tremendous online learning opportunities.
Policymakers in the state are committed to helping residents recognize the value of higher education, ensuring a brighter future for individuals as well as the entire state’s economy.