State Treasurer Riley Moore, who serves as Chairman of the Hope Scholarship Board, informed Board members last week he will ask them to consider potential rule changes to eliminate the Hope Scholarship application deadline in future academic years, opening the program up to year-round applications from students.
“Now that we have more than a full year of the Hope Scholarship in operation, and we’ve seen the level of interest across the state, I believe it’s time to open this program to the maximum extent possible for all eligible students,” Treasurer Moore said. “We believe we can and should allow year-round applications in the future.”
Under the current legislative rule, the Hope Scholarship application period is set up to run from March 1 through May 15 each year. More than 5,700 students have been awarded the Hope Scholarship for the 2023-2024 year that is about to begin.
Treasurer Moore also said he intends to work with legislators to allow the program to operate on a quarterly funding model.
The Hope Scholarship law requires the Board to provide funds to qualified students twice a year, with the first half of funds for an academic year provided by Aug. 15 and the remaining half provided by Jan. 15. Treasurer Moore would like lawmakers to allow the Board to fund accounts on a quarterly basis.
While these proposals will be considered in the coming months, the Hope Scholarship Board on Wednesday, Aug. 9, did change the program’s reimbursement policy to provide additional educational purchasing options for participating families.
The Board will now allow reimbursement requests for widely and immediately available “off-the-shelf” curriculum packages that are available for purchase on the open market.
Prior to this Board action, curriculum could only be purchased with Hope Scholarship funds through the program’s online Education Market Assistant (EMA) portal. However, some of the most widely used curriculum providers do not offer their products through the EMA portal in West Virginia or through similar programs in other states.
On Wednesday, the Hope Scholarship Board approved policy changes that would allow participating families to purchase these pre-packaged curriculum options on the open market and be reimbursed by the Board.
“This change will allow Hope Scholarship families to pursue popular, ready-made curriculum packages for their students, increasing the educational opportunities available for their children,” Treasurer Moore said.
That change is now in effect for students in the current academic year.
The Hope Scholarship is an education savings account program available for kindergarten through 12th grade students. It is designed to allow parents and families to receive an amount equal to the state portion of their child’s education funding to tailor an individualized learning experience that works best for their child.