PROMISE payoff begins

April 11, 2003

This year West Virginia's most expensive private college successfully used the state's PROMISE scholarship program to attract students who might otherwise have left the state.

The strategy, which brought West Virginia Wesleyan at Buckhannon almost $500,000, should be copied by public institutions.

Wesleyan is the state's most costly college. Tuition is $19,300 a year, with room and board charges adding another $4,800.

It's not the sort of school most associate with the PROMISE program, designed to help students who might not otherwise attend college.

But according to Robert Morganstern, PROMISE director, West Virginia Wesleyan officials looked at students' transcripts and made a pitch to those eligible for the state scholarship.

Wesleyan officials found success by emphasizing that accepting a PROMISE scholarship would not make students ineligible for other financial aid from the school. Other schools which attracted only a few PROMISE-eligible students said they would adjust their strategy next year.


Should a private school like Wesleyan get the same break as the state's public universities and colleges?

Yes, because both are doing what the PROMISE program is designed to do - getting more of the state's high school students to consider attending college, and doing so at West Virginia institutions.

Natives who attend college in the state should feel some loyalty to it, as opposed to out-of-staters who attend West Virginia schools and take away what they've learned when they graduate. West Virginia needs its native sons and daughters to apply what they learn to improve their home state.

PROMISE is already making a difference, according to Gov. Bob Wise, who noted that even the rural counties which send few students on to college are beginning to increase those numbers. Whether they go to private or public colleges is less important than the fact that they go.

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