The Parthenon

New law to bring changes to PROMISE in W.Va.

Rick Haye | University Communications

Rick Haye | University Communications

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A bill eliminating the need for homeschooled students to earn the equivalent to a high school degree in order to receive the PROMISE scholarship was passed by the West Virginia Legislature. Passed in early March, Senate Bill 319 will go into effect on July 1.

Previously, homeschooled students pursing a college education were required to earn their high school degree by taking tests such as the GED or TASC to be considered for scholarship. This bill will nix this requirement; however, it does not lower the SAT or ACT standards.

According to the new law, to be eligible for the PROMISE scholarship, a student must first submit a scholarship application within two years after finishing their secondary education in a public, private, homeschool or obtaining the equivalent of GED. The student must still submit FAFSA, maintain a G.P.A. of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the required core and elective courses, maintain academic progress, be a legal United States citizen, meet the objective standards of the commission and enroll in an eligible institution.

Abigail Harmen, a previously homeschooled first-year Marshall student, said she thinks this law will keep more students in state.

“(The PROMISE without needing a GED) would be a significant addition to the very small pool of scholarships specifically for homeschooled students, because they are usually for schools far away that are sometimes not accredited or for very niche programs that result in almost the complete lack of ability to find a scholarship at all, which happened to me,” Harmen said.

A similar bill, House Bill 2675, was voted on in 2015. Former Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill. Tomblin’s veto message stated “eliminating the requirement that home school students show mastery of certain subjects, rather than simply complete a course of study, provides an unfair advantage of those students to receive a PROMISE scholarship.”

Tomblin also said he disapproved of the bill, because it would “create an incentive for some students to drop out of the public-school system.”

“(If students dropping out) becomes a problem, we can come back and report it to the legislature and say, ‘We need to make some adjustments,’” West Virginia Higher Education Vice Chancellor Matt Turner said to the Senate Education Committee.

According to the Common Data Set 2017-2018 by Marshall University’s Institutional Research and Planning, the university currently requires a high school diploma or GED to be admitted.

Ginny Blake can be contacted at [email protected]

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