The Hope Scholarship is Constitutional!
On October 6th, 2022, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the Hope Scholarship program is constitutional, allowing the program to resume operations. Because of this decision, families who were previously approved can expect to receive funds this coming January. Since the ruling, the Hope Scholarship Board has focused on restarting the program for the January 2023 semester.
The Hope Scholarship Board’s Emergency Rules
On October 12, 2022, the Hope Scholarship Board met for the first time since the injunction. This meeting was to discuss the adoption of an emergency amendment to the rules and determine next steps.
What Happens To Previously Approved Hope Students?
The Hope Scholarship Board’s Emergency Rules, specifically section 12, restore all affected families to the program. Section 12.2 restores previously approved Hope Scholarship families into the program. It also grandfathers in all applicants who were eligible when they applied before the injunction but hadn’t yet been approved. In short, all Hope families will be restored in full into the program unless they choose to forfeit the scholarship.
Section 12.3 of the emergency amendment allows for families to be reimbursed for this previous semester’s Hope Scholarship expenses. Families whose children were enrolled full-time in private school or homeschool during the injunction will be reimbursed the full amount of Hope funds from this year.
According to section 12.4, students enrolled full-time in public school during the injunction will receive a prorated amount of funds. Details on reimbursement will become available around the end of November 2022.
The Board will contact each family individually to determine how much Hope funds they should receive. Their method of contact will be a survey that is sent via email to each family – responses are mandatory and failure to submit these answers by the deadline on the survey will be considered forfeiture of the scholarship. Information on the deadline is forthcoming but questions can be directed to the West Virginia Hope Scholarship Board.
When Will the Application Process Resume for New Hope Scholars?
The application process for the 2023-2024 academic year will begin March 1st–May 15th. This is the window for the families to apply with few exceptions (i.e, early-entrance kindergarten students). This year, the Hope Scholarship Board has
“suspended acceptance of application requests for the 2022-2023 school year except for those students newly eligible for the Hope Scholarship Program pursuant to W.Va. CSR §112-18-3.1.4.c. (i.e. under the 45-day rule).”
Basically, unless you just hit the 45-day mark, you will need to wait until the March 1st–May 15th application window. The Board made this decision for ease in restarting the application process and approving all newly eligible applicants.
When Can Providers Begin Applying?
The Hope Scholarship Board is working with Step Up for Students – the program vendor – to get the portal back up for providers to begin applying. Currently, they are smoothing out the application process for providers. We do not have a definitive date for when that will happen. But it will likely come some time in early November.
How Can Parents Stay Up To Date?
Parents who have questions and wish to stay up to date should refer to www.hopescholarshipwv.com. The Board is working to post updates and information to this site.
Andrew Bambrick is the Education Outreach Coordinator for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.