Last week, the West Virginia Supreme Court lifted an injunction against the Hope Scholarship program. The program’s governing board must now address delays and issues the injunction caused for the program to move forward.
The Hope Scholarship Board held an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the program’s next actions after an Oct. 6 ruling by the Supreme Court lifted an injunction against the program.
The Hope Scholarship Act became law in 2021, providing money for a variety of educational expenses, including tuition and fees at participating private schools and other educational activities.
The board discussed and adopted a new section to the legislative rules of the program, addressing eligibility and payment issues caused by the injunction. Most notably, Deputy Treasurer of Savings Programs Amy Willard explained applicants who sent their students to public school for the fall semester will receive a prorated amount.
“The students who went ahead and went to non-public school would receive the full amount,” she said. “We know that there are some students who are currently attending public school and so they would not be entitled to the full amount.”
The July 6 injunction from the Kanawha County Circuit Court was handed down just a month before the start of the school year. Many families were counting on the Hope Scholarship to help pay for private tuition.
Willard said Hope Scholarship recipients likely won’t see any money until January. She also said an update will be available on the program’s site later Wednesday, and applicants will be contacted directly.
“We’re going to have to basically ask everyone what they’ve been doing so far, you know, are they in public school?” Willard said. “Every parent that has been approved or had a pending application will be contacted, hopefully, within the next couple of weeks to start moving forward with this process.”
The board also moved to suspend consideration of any new Hope Scholarship application requests for the duration of the 2022-23 school year, with an exception for newly eligible students as already defined in the board’s existing emergency rules.
“This will allow board staff to focus on the implementation issues needed to get the Hope Scholarship Program completely up and running for the students and families who have already been approved, or who are in process,” Willard said.
The Hope Scholarship Board is expected to meet again in November.