Chris Schulz Published

Funding Gap Forces Suspension Of Teacher Scholarship

A bird's eye view shows a long table with white cloths on either side of a red cloth on the stage of a dark auditorium. All seated at the table are facing the audience, with a large projector screen deployed behind them.
The Joint Committee on Education meets in the auditorium of Wheeling Park High School during interims Nov. 13, 2023.
Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography

A competitive scholarship to encourage high schoolers to become teachers isn’t accepting applications due to a lack of funding. 

Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Education learned about the suspended Underwood-Smith scholarship program during their interim meeting at Wheeling Park High School Monday.

The Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program is a competitive scholarship for recent high school graduates wanting to become teachers, particularly in an area of critical need like math, science, elementary education or special education.

But Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), told lawmakers the scholarship is not accepting new applicants.

“The idea was that you would step in each cohort,” she said. “We didn’t need the total fiscal note for all four cohort years in year one, because we only have the freshmen. You funded the freshmen in year one. And year two, you funded the freshmen and the sophomores, and year three, you were going to fund the freshmen, the sophomores and the juniors, but that third year didn’t get funded.”

Tucker said students who have already received the scholarships will not be affected by the funding issues.

“I can get us through the group of students that we have, but I can’t add on any additional students,” she said.