In light of modest community college enrollment declines, Chancellor urges West Virginians to keep pursuing education and training
West Virginia’s Community and Technical College System today released fall 2020 enrollment data for the state’s two-year community and technical colleges. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment declines were moderate at most campuses – with an overall drop of just over 3,300 students across the statewide system.
Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Higher Education Chancellor, noted that the state’s two-year colleges typically have high numbers of part-time students as a result of training partnerships with local businesses – but those numbers have seen a decline because of COVID-19.
“What we’re seeing in our two-year enrollment has a lot to do with the partnerships our colleges have with business and industry, and the fact that companies just aren’t sending their employees to our campuses for training right now,” Chancellor Tucker said. “We also know how much our adult part-time students are juggling. They’re carrying jobs, working to support their families, helping their children do their schooling at home, and so much more. That’s why we have to do everything we can to support them in continuing their own education.”
In 2019, the West Virginia Legislature passed and Governor Jim Justice approved the state’s tuition-free grant program – West Virginia Invests – for students pursuing certificate or associate degree programs. According to new data, this grant was awarded to 1,167 students in the 2019-20 academic year, with an average award of $2,800 to cover the cost of tuition and eligible fees.
“Interest in West Virginia Invests remains high, and that is a promising statistic. We also know that even more students who apply for Invests actually qualify for other financial aid, so they don’t need the award when other programs cover their costs first,” Chancellor Tucker said. “We need even more West Virginians to know these opportunities exist, complete the FAFSA, and see what financial aid is available to them. I wholeheartedly believe that education and training beyond high school is the way forward for our state, and for our people. That’s always been true – but it’s truer than ever today.”
West Virginia ranks in the top 10 states in providing financial aid, with the state higher education system administering more than $104 million in student aid each year. To help students learn about the financial aid opportunities available to them, the system office is offering a series of financial aid webinars, as well as extended office hours for those with questions about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – which is the first critical step to accessing financial aid for college.
The FAFSA is free and available through the U.S. Department of Education at fafsa.gov.
The WV Invests grant application is available at www.wvinvests.org.
For assistance, West Virginians are encouraged to call the state’s financial aid hotline at 877-987-7664.
Click HERE for the full public two-year enrollment report.
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