Chris Schulz Published

Senate Education Committee Adds Another University To Promise Scholarship

A wide shot of the Senate Education Committee meeting in the Senate Finance Chamber Feb. 1, 2024. A woman's head can be seen in the foreground as a large desk/dais curves away into the background. in the center, below a blue screen can be seen a woman standing at a lectern in front of a seating area in the far background.
The Senate Education Committee meets Feb. 1, 2024.
Will Price/WV Legislative Photography

The Senate Education Committee quickly moved along five bills today, many of which updated existing educational programs. One bill would add another university to the list of eligible institutions for the Promise Scholarship. 

The Promise Scholarship is a merit-based financial aid program for West Virginia high school graduates planning to attend one of the state’s public or independent two- or four-year institutions.

Senate Bill 529 would add Salem University to the list of eligible institutions where the scholarship may be used. 

Currently, 17 of the state’s four-year institutions are eligible for students to use the scholarship.

Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, asked why Salem had not been included over the scholarship’s more than 20 years of existence.

Kristin Boggs, general counsel for the Higher Education Policy Commission, gave a simple answer.

“Salem University is a for-profit institution and at the time the Promise scholarship statute was passed, the included private institutions were private nonprofits,” she said.

The only private for-profit institutions currently eligible for the scholarship are West Virginia Junior College’s Bridgeport, Charleston and Morgantown locations. 

Sen. Mike Oliverio, R-Monongalia, said he had previously sponsored a similar bill and that all qualifying students should be open to pursue their passions where they please.

“This summer we did our fact-finding visit to Salem, met with administration faculty, staff and students,” he said. “There are some exciting things going on that campus. There are a handful of West Virginia students who would meet the eligibility requirements to receive the Promise scholarship and we don’t want to stand in their way of allowing them to go to school there.”

The bill was recommended to the full Senate with a reference to the Senate Finance Committee. Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, said with zero fiscal impact, the finance committee chair will be asked to waive the second reference.

Other Business

The Senate Education Committee recommended four other bills to the full Senate with the recommendation that they do pass. 

  • SB547 – Authorizing legislative rules for Higher Education Policy Commission
  • SB563 – Updating Center for Nursing to Office of Nursing Education and Workforce Development
  • SB507 – Relating to repeal of WV EDGE
  • SB546 – Updating STEM scholarship program

All four bills were voted forward without discussion.