Hope Scholarship Recipients Welcome to Apply

By Joyce Bibey WEST VIRGINIA—As 2021 ends, the Department of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is planning for the 2022-2023 school year and West Virginia Hope Scholarship program awareness is part of the planning. Students entering kindergarten in the school 2022-2023, and first-though eleventh-grade students currently enrolled in public school are eligible to apply for the West Virginia Hope Scholarship run by the WV Treasure’s Office and use it towards tuition and fees for any of the 24 Catholic schools in the state. This scholarship is not run, managed, or determined by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston or the Department of Catholic Schools in the diocese. The program, formerly HB 2013 was passed by the WV Legislature in 2021 and will begin in the fall of 2022. According to the WV Treasurer’s Office, under the current school aid formula, each eligible student would receive $4,600 annually to use toward private school, alternative instruction programs, or home school. The state stipulates that money in the Hope Scholarship education savings account will be administered through a third party. The treasurer’s office reports that each family awarded would have access to an account for each eligible student in their household. All purchases would be pre- approved by the state. The funds awarded can only be spent on education expenses such as tuition and fees, extracurriculars, tutoring, materials, supplies, textbooks, transportation, etc. Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Mary Ann Deschaine, Ed.S., said the Catholic schools welcome Hope Scholarship recipients to apply for a Catholic education in West Virginia. She has been in talks with WV Treasurer Riley Moore since June about the opportunity for students new to Catholic school. Moore has noted that the amount a family receives based on the state aid formula will vary from year to year based on the WV School Aid Formula, which is different from the cost per pupil K-12 schools spend in West Virginia. According to the US Department of Education, West Virginia public school’s cost per pupil is $11,757 (last updated Aug. 1, 2021). Students currently enrolled in Catholic schools, private schools, and home schoolers may become eligible in July 2026, according to the FAQs listed on the WV Treasurer’s Office Hope Scholarship Page. For Hope Scholarship details go to: hope scholarshipwv.com. Catholic schools have a lot to offer families, Deschaine said. “God is in our schools,” she said. “Everything we do, choices we make, and plans we develop are prayerfully made with the best intentions of our students’ success. While our students outperform their peers academically, the social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental well-being of each child is just as important to academic achievement. We lead with faith.” For information on the Catholic Schools of West Virginia go to: wvcatholicschools. org.