West Virginia extends grant deadline, ramps up FAFSA outreach in effort to increase college-going rate among high school graduates

CHARLESTON, WV – In its regular meeting today, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission voted to extend the deadline for students applying for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant – the state’s primary need-based financial aid program – to July 1, 2021. This extension comes as West Virginia reports a 2.3 percentage point drop in the state’s college-going rate from 2019 to 2020, with 48.2 percent of last year’s public high school seniors enrolling in college in the summer or fall after graduation.

“In close collaboration with the Department of Education, we’ve been working to get West Virginia’s high school seniors in a post-pandemic mindset and help them plan for their futures after graduation,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor for Higher Education. “Thanks to strong state leadership, West Virginia offers more than $100 million in student aid each year. But if students aren’t applying for these programs, that money gets left on the table – and we can’t let that happen.” 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) serves as the application for the Higher Education Grant. The FAFSA is free and available through the U.S. Department of Education at fafsa.gov.

The state higher education office coordinates various outreach initiatives designed to help students and their families complete the FAFSA. To further strengthen these efforts, West Virginia recently applied for and was awarded a grant from the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) to help ensure the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t stop high school seniors from enrolling in college. The state was one of just 23 recipients chosen by NCAN to receive funding for new FAFSA completion programs.

For assistance with the FAFSA or state financial aid applications, students and families are encouraged to call the state’s financial aid hotline at 877-987-7664. Students are also encouraged to sign up for West Virginia’s text-message college counseling program, “Txt 4 Success,” by visiting http://www.cfwvconnect.com/txt-4-success/.