According to our cost of college statistics, the average in-state total cost of attendance at public universities and colleges in the U.S. was about $25,290 for the 2017-18 school year.
That’s no small chunk of change.
In the end, it’s no real surprise that West Virginia students graduate with an average student loan debt of $27,608. The good news is there are ways to pay for college without breaking the bank.
Although there’s a good chance you’ll have to borrow some money, you can reduce the amount of overall amount of debt you’ll have after graduation by tapping various state-based financial aid programs.
On this page:
- Getting Financial Aid for School
- West Virginia Student Loans
- West Virginia Scholarships
- Grants for West Virginia Students
Getting Financial Aid for School
For the most part, it’s fairly easy to get financial assistance for school. The federal government offers a number of programs you can access by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
In fact, many West Virginia colleges and universities use the FAFSA to help determine what financial aid to award students. Essentially, you can go a long way by filling out just one form.
How much financial aid you receive depends, in large part, on your family’s financial situation and expected family contribution (EFC). After you fill out the FAFSA, the government will let you know how much you’re eligible to receive in grants, as well as whether you qualify for federal work-study.
You’ll also see your EFC, an amount that, truthfully, might not be practical for you and your family. You can use that number as a starting point in figuring out your college funding gap.
This might be possible through outside scholarships, as well as with the help of federal student loans. If there’s still a funding gap, you should look into the best private student loans that can help you pay for school.
State-Based Student Loans in West Virginia
In addition to federal aid, West Virginia has its own student loan programs available to students. Some examples include:
Alex & Betty Schoenbaum Teacher Preparation Scholarship/Loan
If you plan to teach when you finish school, the Alex & Betty Schoenbaum Teacher Preparation Scholarship/Loan might be for you.
If you get a degree in education, the scholarship will be forgiven. If you don’t complete an education degree, however, the scholarship converts to a loan with an interest rate of 5%.
You need a West Virginia University identification number, and your EFC and financial situation will be taken into account. Apply by the start of the academic year after you’ve submitted your FAFSA.
West Virginia Medical Student Loan
For medical students, the WV Medical Student Loan can help cover the cost of tuition This is a low-interest, subsidized loan with first consideration offered to West Virginia residents, although out-of-state attendees can also apply. It’s possible to have the loan forgiven if medical students return to West Virginia to practice medicine.
You do need to meet criteria determining financial need, and each loan limit is $10,000. You’ll need to reapply each academic year but do so early — loans are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on fund availability.
Emergency Student Loans
Some schools in West Virginia, like Marshall University, offer emergency student loans designed to help students who find themselves in unexpected situations. At Marshall, the loan limit is $250, and you can apply for one each semester.
In many cases, emergency student loans are short term, so you have to be prepared to repay them by the end of the semester. Check with your university to see if it offers these loans.
>> Read More: State-based student loans
West Virginia College Scholarships
Depending on your situation, you might be eligible to receive West Virginia scholarships. Scholarships are a great advantage because it’s money you don’t ever have to repay.
College Foundation of West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship
- Scholarship amount: Up to $4,750 annually
- Eligibility requirements: The College Foundation of West Virginia offers the PROMISE Scholarship to eligible students who meet certain merit and need-based criteria. Students must be on track to graduate from a West Virginia high school and have resided in West Virginia for at least 12 consecutive months. You must also fill out a FAFSA and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
- Deadline to apply: March 1
West Virginia Engineering, Science, and Technology Scholarship Program
- Scholarship amount: Up to $3,000 per year
- Eligibility requirements: The West Virginia Engineering, Science, and Technology Scholarship is available to help U.S. citizens with a GPA of at least 3.0 who promise to complete a course of study in engineering, science, or technology. Additionally, recipients must agree to remain in West Virginia for one year for each year they receive the scholarship, or the money needs to be repaid.
- Deadline to apply: March 1
Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program
- Scholarship amount: Up to $5,000 per year
- Eligibility requirements: The Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program requires recipients to stay in West Virginia for one or two years for each year they receive the award. Students must be pursuing a teaching certificate. Preference is given to juniors, seniors, and graduate students.
- Deadline to apply: March 1
West Virginia Grants for College
In many cases, scholarships are based on merit as much as need. With grants, though, the eligibility requirements are almost entirely based on need.
If you qualify for a Pell Grant from the federal government and it’s not enough to meet your needs, you can consider applying for state-specific grant programs.
West Virginia Higher Education Grant
- Grant amount: Up to $2,700 per year
- Eligibility requirements: The West Virginia Higher Education Grant is entirely based on need as demonstrated by your FAFSA.
- Deadline to apply: April 15
Adult Part-Time Student Grant
- Grant amount: Up to $2,000 per year
- Eligibility requirements: You must be attending a participating school only part-time to take advantage of the Adult Part-Time Student Grant through the College Foundation of West Virginia. You must also fill out a FAFSA and have it sent to your desired school.
- Deadline to apply: First come, first served, starting July 1
Bottom Line: There are State-Based Options Available
There’s a good chance your college funding plan will need to include several funding sources. Start by filling out your FAFSA and then seeing what grants and scholarships for which you might qualify. You can also save up for college, work part-time, or get a work-study job. Try to save student loans as a last resort.
If you do need student loans, start with federal loans, which are available to almost anyone. Turn to private loans only if you still need help closing your college funding gap.