What are Education Service Providers?
Education Service Providers, referred to as “ESPs,” are any organization, school, or individual that has agreed to receive Hope funds in exchange for Education services.
When can interested ESPs apply?
Interested providers can apply at any point during the academic year, which runs from July 1-June 30.
How do schools, organizations, or tutors become approved ESPs? What are the requirements of ESPs?
In order to become an Education Service Partner, you have to submit a notice of intent along with a provider contract. If a school or organization does not submit a contract, they cannot receive Hope funds. In order to be an Education Service Provider, you must do two things.
- Submit a notice of intent on a form to be prescribed by the Board.
- Agree to and comply with all requirements of W. Va. Code §18-31-1 et seq. and this rule.
Upon submitting the notice of intent, you will need to enter into a contract with the Board. With the contract, you are agreeing to:
- Comply with W.Va. Code §18-31-1 et seq. and the rules for this program.
- Only use the funds as required and mandated by the rules.
- The provider will require a background check for anyone interacting with hope students.
- You won’t engage in unlawful discrimination – meaning you continue to follow all nondiscrimination rules you’ve already been following. Chapter 18 of the West Virginia Code cites 42 U.S. Code § 1981 as the basis for discrimination protections.
- If you are a school, you must notify the superintendent of a student’s participation.
The exact text of the contract, as well as the notice of intent form, are still being designed and will be published soon on the West Virginia Hope Scholarship Website.
Can a school or organization based outside of West Virginia become an approved ESP?
Neither the legislation nor the rules require that a provider be based in West Virginia.
Will schools or organizations be required to change their statement of faith or creed in order to become an ESP?
Neither the legislation nor the rules mandate that a school change its statement of faith, creed, curriculum, admissions policies to become an Education Service Provider.
What nondiscrimination provisions must ESPs follow?
The rules and the legislation require all providers to continue following nondiscrimination laws that apply to them.
Can schools limit how many Hope Scholarship dollars they accept?
A provider cannot charge a Hope Scholarship family above the regularly scheduled tuition and fee rate. However, the rules are silent on a provider limiting how many Hope dollars they accept. Yet, this type of limitation may discourage Hope families from applying to your school or your organization and is counter to the program’s intent.
What are the criteria for background checks on individuals interacting with students?
Any additional details are forthcoming and will be provided upon application.
Will ESPs be subjected to an audit?
Education Service providers will only be audited if there is an accusation of criminal conduct or misuse of funds. Any audit will be reserved exclusively for the Hope Scholarship and all funds associated with the program. If it is found that you have misused the Hope Scholarship funds, then you may lose authorization as a provider. You can appeal any decision made about your status.