The first round of Hope Scholarship money was awarded to families on Friday, following months of legal battles.
Nearly 1,800 students and their families received vouchers to cover educational expenses for non-public schools. Of that number, 1,610 were granted the full annual amount of nearly $4,298.60.
Other applicants are still waiting for their payments, including 466 that are waiting for inconsistencies in the West Virginia Education Informational System of when students transferred schools to be dealt with.
A remaining 619 have not had payments issued – a statement from the state treasurer’s office says these families haven’t responded to a questionnaire from Hope Scholarship Board staff asking about their child’s status. They believe most of these cases come from families that decided to keep their children in public schools during the injunction.
“I know the injunction and the uncertainty it caused created a tremendous hardship on families, and we appreciate the patience they have displayed as we continue to work through the litany of issues it produced,” state treasurer Riley Moore said in the release. Moore is also the chairman of the Hope Scholarship Board.
In total, nearly 3,000 families applied for Hope Scholarship funds before an injunction in Kanawha Circuit Court halted the program last May. It was lifted in October by the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals.
Advocates of the Hope Scholarship program call it a victory for school choice, while opponents say it’s taking away needed money from the state’s public school systems.
The period to apply for next school year’s round of Hope Scholarship funding begins March 1, with current applicants eligible to reapply on Feb. 15.