WEST virginia legislature
2019 regular session
House Bill 2450
By Delegate Rowe and Pyles
[Introduced January 16, 2019; Referred
to the Committee on Education then Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18-2-6 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-2E-11; to amend and reenact §18-9A-2 of said code; to amend and reenact §18C-1-5 of said code, and to amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §18C-9-1, §18C-9-2, §18C-9-3, §18C-9-4, §18C-9-5, and §18C-9-6, all relating generally to increasing access to career education and workforce training; establishing Advanced Career Education (ACE) programs and pathways; providing that certain individuals who have completed a secondary education program in a public, private, or home school shall be considered adults enrolled in regular secondary programs for funding purposes; altering the membership of the Higher Education Student Financial Aid Advisory Board; requiring community and technical colleges establish partnerships with career technical education centers, county boards of education, or both that provide for ACE programs; providing requirements for ACE programs and pathways; requiring the Board of Education and the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education promulgate joint guidelines; requiring the Division of Vocational Education and the council maintain and annually report certain information; providing that community and technical colleges and career technical education centers shall participate in one or more ACE partnership in order to receive certain funding; establishing the WV Invests Grant Program; defining terms; authorizing the council to award WV Invests Grants under certain terms and conditions; requiring the council to report certain information on the WV Invests Grant Program; requiring the council to propose legislative rules; providing eligibility and renewal requirements for a WV Invests Grant; requiring applicants enter into certain agreements; and establishing the WV Invests Fund.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
CHAPTER 18. EDUCATION.
ARTICLE 2. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-2-6. Classification and standardization of schools; standards for degrees and diplomas; certificates of proficiency; establishment of alternative education programs.
(a) The state board shall promulgate rules for the accreditation, classification, and standardization of all schools in the state, except institutions of higher education, and shall determine the minimum standards for granting diplomas, advanced certifications, and certificates of proficiency by those schools.
(1) The certificates of proficiency shall include specific information regarding the graduate's skills, competence and readiness for employment, or honors and advanced education and shall be granted, along with the diploma, to every eligible high school graduate.
(2) The certificate of proficiency shall include the program of study major completed by the student only for those students who have completed the required major courses, or higher level courses, advanced placement courses, college courses, or other more rigorous substitutes related to the major, and the recommended electives.
(3) Students who have completed a secondary education program in a public, private, or home school and have continued to be enrolled in a program leading to an advanced certification or an advanced career education program shall be considered adults enrolled in regular secondary programs in accordance with §18-9A-2(i) of this code.
(b) An institution of less than collegiate or university status may not grant any diploma or certificate of proficiency on any basis of work or merit below the minimum standards prescribed by the state board.
(c) A charter or other instrument containing the right to issue diplomas or certificates of proficiency may not be granted by the State of West Virginia to any institution or other associations or organizations of less than collegiate or university status within the state until the condition of granting or issuing the diplomas or other certificates of proficiency has first been approved in writing by the state board.
(d) The state board shall promulgate a rule for the approval of alternative education programs for disruptive students who are at risk of not succeeding in the traditional school structure.
(1) This rule may provide for the waiver of other policies of the state board, the establishment and delivery of a nontraditional curriculum, the establishment of licensure requirements for alternative education program teachers, and the establishment of performance measures for school accreditation.
(2) This rule shall provide uniform definitions of disruptive student behavior and uniform standards for the placement of students in alternative settings or providing other interventions including referrals to local juvenile courts to correct student behavior so that they can return to a regular classroom without engaging in further disruptive behavior.
(e) The state board shall establish up to five pilot projects at the elementary or middle school levels, or both, that employ alternative schools or other placements for disruptive students to learn appropriate behaviors so they can return to the regular classroom without further disrupting the learning environment. The state board shall report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability by December 1, 2010, on its progress in establishing the pilot projects and by December 1 in each year after that for the duration of the pilot projects on the effect of the projects on maintaining student discipline.
(f) If a student attends an approved alternative education program or the Mountaineer Challenge Academy, which is designated as a special alternative education program pursuant to §15-1B-24 of this code, and the student graduates or passes the General Equivalency Development (GED) tests within five years of beginning ninth grade, that student shall be considered graduated for the purposes of calculating the high school graduation rate used for school accreditation and school system approval, subject to the following:
(1) The student shall be considered graduated only to the extent that this is not in conflict with any provision of federal law relating to graduation rates;
(2) If the state board determines that this is in conflict with a provision of federal law relating to graduation rates, the state board shall request a waiver from the United States Department of Education; and
(3) If the waiver is granted, notwithstanding the provisions of §18-2-6(f)(1) of this code, the student graduating or passing the General Educational Development (GED) tests within five years shall be considered graduated.
(g) The state board shall promulgate a rule to support the operation of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program operated by the Adjutant General and known as the Mountaineer Challenge Academy which is designated as a special alternative education program pursuant to §15-1B-24 of this code for students who are at risk of not succeeding in the traditional school structure. The rule shall set forth policies and procedures applicable only to the Mountaineer Challenge Academy that provide for, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Implementation of provisions set forth in §15-1B-24 of this code;
(2) Precedence of the policies and procedures designated by the National Guard Bureau for the operation of the Mountaineer Challenge Academy special alternative education program;
(3) Consideration of a student participating in the Mountaineer Challenge Academy special alternative education program at full enrollment status in the referring county for the purposes of funding and calculating attendance and graduation rates, subject to the following:
(A) The student shall be considered at full enrollment status only for the purposes of calculating attendance and graduation rates to the extent that this is not in conflict with any provision of federal law relating to attendance or graduation rates;
(B) If the state board determines that this is in conflict with a provision of federal law relating to attendance or graduation rates, the state board shall request a waiver from the United States Department of Education;
(C) If the waiver is granted, notwithstanding the provisions of §18-2-6(g)(3)(A) of this code, the student shall be considered at full enrollment status in the referring county for the purposes of calculating attendance and graduation rates; and
(D) Consideration of the student at full enrollment status in the referring county is for the purposes of funding and calculating attendance and graduation rates only. For any other purpose, a student participating in the academy is considered withdrawn from the public school system;
(4) Articulation of the knowledge, skills, and competencies gained through alternative education so that students who return to regular education may proceed toward attainment or may attain the standards for graduation without duplication;
(5) Consideration of eligibility to take the General Educational Development tests by qualifying within the extraordinary circumstances provisions established by state board rule for a student participating in the Mountaineer Challenge Academy special alternative education program who does not meet any other criteria for eligibility; and
(6) Payment of tuition by a county board to the Mountaineer Challenge Academy for each student graduating from the academy with a high school diploma that resides in that county board’s school district. For purposes of this subdivision, “tuition” means an amount equal to 75 percent of the amount allotted per pupil under the school aid formula.
(h) Nothing in this section or the rules promulgated under this section compels the Mountaineer Challenge Academy to be operated as a special alternative education program or to be subject to any other laws governing the public schools except by its consent.
(i) The Legislature makes the following findings regarding students at risk:
(1) Defeated and discouraged learners. —
(A) Any child who is unlikely to graduate on schedule with both the skills and self-esteem necessary to exercise meaningful options in the areas of work, leisure, culture, civic affairs, and personal relationships may be defined as being an at-risk student;
(B) Problems associated with students at risk often begin for them in the early grades as they gradually fall further behind in the essential skills of reading, writing, and math;
(C) These problems may be accompanied by such behavior patterns as poor attendance, inattentiveness, negative attitudes, and acting out in class. These patterns are both symptoms of and added catalysts for students to become increasingly defeated and discouraged learners;
(D) By the middle grades, students with growing skill deficits usually know they are behind other students and have good reason to feel discouraged. A growing lack of self-confidence and self-worth, limited optimism for the future, avoidance of school and adults, and a dimming view of the relationship between effort and achievement are among the characteristics of defeated and discouraged learners;
(E) Public schools are expected to address the needs of all students, minimizing the likelihood that they will become at risk and giving additional attention to those who do; however, the circumstances involved with a child becoming at risk often are complex and may include influences both within and outside of the school environment; and
(F) In fragile homes, a child who is at risk and is becoming a discouraged and defeated learner often lacks adequate support and may develop peer relationships that further exacerbate the difficulty of reengaging him or her in learning, school, and responsible social behavior.
(2) The Legislature further finds that the public schools should not be deterred from seeking and assisting with enrollment of students in an alternative program that helps remedy the discouragement, lessens skill deficits, and facilitates a successful return to public school.
For this purpose, subject to approval of the county superintendent, a student enrolled in the public schools of the county may continue to be enrolled while also enrolled in an alternative program subject to the following conditions:
(1) The alternative program is approved by the state board;
(2) The student meets the general description of an at-risk student and exhibits behaviors and characteristics associated with a discouraged and defeated learner;
(3) The alternative program complies with all requests of the county superintendent for information on the educational program and progress of the student;
(4) The alternative program includes a family involvement component in its program. This component shall include, but is not limited to, providing for student and parent participation in activities that help address the challenging issues that have hindered the student's engagement and progress in learning;
(5) The alternative program includes an on-site boarding option for students;
(6) The alternative program provides an individualized education program for students that is designed to prepare them for a successful transition back into the public schools; and
(7) The parents or legal guardian of the student make application for enrollment of the student in the alternative program, agree to the terms and conditions for enrollment, and enroll the student in the program.
ARTICLE 2E. HIGH QUALITY EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS.
§18-2E-11. Advanced Career Education (ACE).
(a) The Legislature hereby makes the following findings:
(1) Preparing West Virginia students to achieve post-secondary career education and to excel in the workforce is a responsibility shared among all state education agencies and institutions. The state’s education agencies and institutions can fulfill this responsibility by establishing partnerships that enable students to attain advanced career education and valuable workforce skills in a more efficient and advantageous manner;
(2) The formation of partnerships between public secondary schools and community and technical colleges which establish advanced career education programs would ensure that a full range of community and technical college programs and services are provided in all areas of the state;
(3) Programs which create clear and efficient pathways that begin in high school and lead to obtaining advanced certifications and associate degrees will increase the number of students that ultimately obtain a post-secondary credential or degree; and
(4) West Virginia’s economic prosperity is directly tied to the level and quality of its workforce career education. Providing the students of this state with increased access to career education will not only improve the general well-being of its citizens, but greatly enhance the economic prosperity of the state.
(b) The purpose of this section and the Advanced Career Education (ACE) programs authorized herein is to connect secondary schools with community and technical colleges to accomplish the following:
(1) Prepare secondary students for success in post-secondary education and the workforce; and
(2) Provide more opportunities for secondary students to earn post-secondary college credits, certifications, and associate degrees.
(c) To effectuate the purposes set forth in §18-2E-11(b) of this code, the community and technical colleges and the career technical education centers, county boards of education, or both in this state shall establish partnerships that provide for ACE programs which feature defined pathways that begin when a student is in high school and that ultimately lead to associate degrees awarded by community and technical colleges. ACE programs shall be available to public, nonpublic, and homeschool students.
(d) ACE programs shall include pathways that consist of a curriculum of courses leading to an associate degree that has been deemed to satisfy a workforce need as determined by the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce shall, on occasion, but at least annually, provide written notification to the State Board of Education and the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education a determination of areas of workforce need within the state.
(e) The State Superintendent of Schools and the Chancellor of the Council for Community and Technical College Education, or their designees, shall facilitate the ACE programs. At a minimum, an ACE program shall satisfy the following objectives:
(1) Provide additional opportunities to students in this state to attain college credentials through ACE pathways;
(2) Increase the number of students in this state that attain college credentials through ACE pathways;
(3) Allow students in this state to attain college credentials through ACE pathways at little or no cost;
(4) Ensure that ACE pathways provide a clear roadmap to the courses and requirements necessary to attain college credentials; and
(5) Ensure that course requirements within ACE pathways are not duplicated.
(f) The board and council shall jointly promulgate guidelines for the administration of ACE programs and pathways, which must be affirmatively adopted by both the board and the council. At a minimum, such guidelines shall provide for the following:
(1) That ACE program partnerships established between community and technical colleges and career technical education centers, county boards of education, or both shall be reduced to written partnership agreements;
(2) The information required to be contained within partnership agreements;
(3) That ACE programs and pathways must meet the requirements of the accrediting entity for the community and technical college awarding the associate degrees;
(4) That partnership agreements must be approved by the State Superintendent of Schools and the Chancellor for the Council for Community and Technical College Education; and
(5) Any other provisions necessary to effectuate the purposes of this section.
(g) The Division of Vocational Education and the council shall maintain and annually report to the Governor and the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability the following information about ACE programs:
(1) The identity and number of partnership agreements;
(2) The ACE programs and pathways that are being used by career technical education centers, county board of educations, and community and technical colleges; and
(3) The nature and number of degrees and certifications awarded to students participating in ACE programs by each community and technical college and career technical education center.
(h) Beginning with the 2020 fiscal year, and for every fiscal year thereafter, any appropriation by the Legislature to support and or alleviate the cost to citizens in this state to obtain advanced certifications and associate degrees shall only be distributed to those community and technical colleges that form one or more partnerships to establish ACE programs and pathways. Once distributed, the funds may be used to support any program or pathway leading to the award of an associate degree or certification.
ARTICLE 9A. PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPPORT.
For the purpose of this article:
(a) “State board” means the West Virginia Board of Education.
(b) “County board” or “board” means a county board of education.
(c) “Professional salaries” means the state legally mandated salaries of the professional educators as provided in §18A-4-1 et seq. of this code.
(d) “Professional educator” shall be synonymous with and shall have the same meaning as “teacher” as defined in §18-1-1 of this code, and includes technology integration specialists.
(e) “Professional instructional personnel” means a professional educator whose regular duty is as that of a classroom teacher, librarian, attendance director, or school psychologist. A professional educator having both instructional and administrative or other duties shall be included as professional instructional personnel for that ratio of the school day for which he or she is assigned and serves on a regular full-time basis in appropriate instruction, library, attendance, or psychologist duties.
(f) “Professional student support personnel” means a “teacher” as defined in §18-1-1 of this code who is assigned and serves on a regular full-time basis as a counselor or as a school nurse with a bachelor's degree and who is licensed by the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses. For all purposes except for the determination of the allowance for professional educators pursuant to §18-9A-4 of this code, professional student support personnel are professional educators.
(g) “Service personnel salaries” means the state legally mandated salaries for service personnel as provided in §18A-4-8a of this code.
(h) “Service personnel” means all personnel as provided in §18A-4-8 of this code. For the purpose of computations under this article of ratios of service personnel to net enrollment, a service employee shall be counted as that number found by dividing his or her number of employment days in a fiscal year by 200: Provided, That the computation for any service person employed for three and one-half hours or less per day as provided in §18A-4-8a of this code shall be calculated as one half an employment day.
(i) “Net enrollment” means the number of pupils enrolled in special education programs, kindergarten programs, and grades one to 12, inclusive, of the public schools of the county. Net enrollment further shall include:
(1) Adults enrolled in regular secondary vocational
existing as of the effective date of this section subject to
(A) Net enrollment includes no more than
2,500 of those adults counted on the basis of full-time equivalency and
apportioned annually to each county in proportion to the adults participating
in regular secondary vocational programs in the prior year counted on the basis
of full-time equivalency: Provided, That beginning with the
2022 fiscal year and every year thereafter, a career technical education center
may receive the funding for enrollment as authorized by this paragraph only if
the center has satisfied the requirements of §18-2E-11 of this code; and
(B) Net enrollment does not include any adult charged tuition or special fees beyond that required of the regular secondary vocational student;
(2) Students enrolled in early childhood education programs as provided in §18-5-44 of this code, counted on the basis of full-time equivalency;
(3) No pupil shall be counted more than once by reason of transfer within the county or from another county within the state, and no pupil shall be counted who attends school in this state from another state;
(4) The enrollment shall be modified to the equivalent of the instructional term and in accordance with the eligibility requirements and rules established by the state board; and
(5) For the purposes of determining the county's basic foundation program only, for any county whose net enrollment as determined under all other provisions of this definition is less than 1,400, the net enrollment of the county shall be increased by an amount to be determined in accordance with the following:
(A) Divide the state's lowest county student population density by the county's actual student population density;
(B) Multiply the amount derived from the calculation in §18-9A-2(i)(5)(A) of this code by the difference between 1,400 and the county's actual net enrollment;
(C) If the increase in net enrollment as determined under this subdivision plus the county's net enrollment as determined under all other provisions of this subsection is greater than 1,400, the increase in net enrollment shall be reduced so that the total does not exceed 1,400; and
(D) During the 2008-2009 interim period and every three interim periods thereafter, the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability shall review this subdivision to determine whether or not these provisions properly address the needs of counties with low enrollment and a sparse population density.
(j) “Sparse-density county” means a county whose ratio of net enrollment, excluding any increase in the net enrollment of counties, pursuant to §18-9A-2(i)(5) of this code, of the definition of “net enrollment”, to the square miles of the county is less than five.
(k) “Low-density county” means a county whose ratio of net enrollment, excluding any increase in the net enrollment of counties, pursuant to §18-9A-2(i)(5) of this code, of the definition of “net enrollment”, to the square miles of the county is equal to or greater than five but less than 10.
(l) “Medium-density county” means a county whose ratio of net enrollment, excluding any increase in the net enrollment of counties, pursuant to §18-9A-2(i)(5) of this code, of the definition of “net enrollment”, to the square miles of the county is equal to or greater than 10 but less than 20.
(m) “High-density county” means a county whose ratio of net enrollment, excluding any increase in the net enrollment of counties, pursuant to §18-9A-2(i)(5) of this code, of the definition of “net enrollment”, to the square miles of the county is equal to or greater than 20.
(n) “Levies for general current expense purposes” means 90 percent of the levy rate for county boards of education calculated or set by the Legislature pursuant to §11-8-6f of this code.
(o) “Technology integration specialist” means a professional educator who has expertise in the technology field and is assigned as a resource teacher to provide information and guidance to classroom teachers on the integration of technology into the curriculum.
(p) “State aid eligible personnel” means all professional educators and service personnel employed by a county board in positions that are eligible to be funded under this article and whose salaries are not funded by a specific funding source such as a federal or state grant, donation, contribution, or other specific funding source not listed.
CHAPTER 18C. STUDENT LOANS; SCHOLARSHIPS AND STATE AID.
ARTICLE 1. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE GENERALLY.
§18C-1-5. Higher Education Student Financial Aid Advisory Board.
(a) The Higher Education Student Financial Aid Advisory Board is established.
(b) The purpose of the board is to provide financial aid expertise and policy guidance to the commission, the council and the Vice Chancellor for Administration on all matters related to federal, state and private student financial aid resources and programs.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the advisory board:
(1) Recommend methods to balance the needs of state students from all levels of financial need and academic ability;
(2) Recommend methods for achieving a comprehensive system of student financial aid to maximize the return on the state’s investment in student financial aid programs by increasing the skills, qualifications and education achievement of the citizens receiving the benefits;
(3) Recommend methods to coordinate state-funded student financial aid programs so that the state achieves the appropriate blend of programs to expand the range of economic opportunities available to state citizens;
(4) Recommend ways to improve state-level administration of financial aid programs for the benefit of students and institutions;
(5) Recommend ways to improve financial aid outreach activities;
(6) Make recommendations, consistent with the nature of
the PROMISE scholarship program as
a merit-based student financial aid
program; and (7) Study feasibility of including for-profit
institutions as eligible institutions for PROMISE scholarship awards and
requirements, if any, for inclusion, and (8) (7) Recommend rules that align with the
goals, objectives and priorities set forth in §18B-1-1a of this code and
§18B-1D-1 et seq. of this code and with other state and system public
policy goals, objectives and priorities.
(d) Advisory board membership. --
(1) The advisory board shall consist of seven members selected as follows:
Three Two members appointed by the commission
Higher Education Policy Commission;
(B) Two members appointed by the
Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education;
(C) One member appointed by the West Virginia Independent
Colleges and Universities;
(D) One member appointed by the West Virginia School Counselor Association; and
(E) One teacher or administrative head from a state public career and technical education center to be appointed by the Council for Community and Technical College Education. The teacher or administrative head shall be added to the advisory board at the end of the first term of a member representing the Higher Education Policy Commission appointed under §18C-1-5(d)(1)(A) of this code.
(2) Members appointed by the commission and the council
should possess a broad knowledge of state and federal higher education
student financial aid programs and the challenges of students who may need
financial help for a pathway to a college education based on the merit
performance of students, and have experience in administering these
programs, preferably at the school, campus, or system level. (3) The initial appointments of members shall be made
as follows: (A) The commission shall appoint one member to a
one-year term, one member to a two-year term and one member to a three-year
term; (B) The council shall appoint one member to a one-year
term and one member to a three-year term; (C) The West Virginia Independent Colleges and
Universities shall appoint one member to a one-year term; and (D) The West Virginia School Counselor Association
shall appoint one member to a two-year term (4) (3) After the initial terms are
completed, appointments shall be made as follows:
(A) Members shall be appointed for three-year terms; and
(B) Members are eligible to succeed themselves for one additional consecutive term.
(5) (4) The term of each member begins on
July 1 of the year in which the appointment is made and ends on June 30 of the
year in which the appointment expires.
The first meeting of the advisory board shall be
called by the Vice Chancellor for Administration, at which time the members
shall elect a chairperson for an initial term ending on July 31, 2010. The
chairperson may succeed himself or herself for an additional one-year term as
chairperson. Thereafter The term of the chairperson is for one year
beginning on August 1 of the year in which elected and ending on July 31 of the
following year. A member may not serve more than two consecutive terms as
(f) In the event of a vacancy, a successor shall be appointed by the entity which appointed the vacating member for the unexpired term of the vacating member. A person appointed to fill a vacancy is eligible for reappointment for one additional consecutive term unless the time remaining in the unexpired term is less than six months in which case the person filling the vacancy is eligible for reappointment for two additional terms.
(g) Members of the advisory board serve without compensation, but are entitled to reimbursement by the commission for expenses, including travel expenses, which are actually incurred by the member in the official conduct of the business of the advisory board.
ARTICLE 9. WEST VIRGINIA INVESTs GRANT PROGRAM.
§18C-9-1. Short title.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the WV Invests Grant Program.
§18C-9-2. Legislative findings and purpose.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:
(1) Every West Virginian should have access to education and training that will lead directly to quality employment opportunities within the state. In order for West Virginia to retain and attract business and industry, it must ensure that its workforce has such education and training;
(2) West Virginia currently faces a human capital crisis, as the state regularly ranks among the lowest states in the nation in workforce participation rates. Improving the state’s workforce participation rates and the level of the workforce’s career education is critical to economic development and making West Virginia a more prosperous state;
(3) The 2017 West Virginia Forward Report, a strategy for economic development and job growth, found that “investments in improving human capital are considered the most significant opportunity for improvement in West Virginia, especially because access to a specialized workforce is a significant factor for investment attraction…”;
(4) According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly earnings of an individual with an associate’s degree is approximately $6,604 more than an individual with only a high school diploma. Therefore, any investment by the state into a citizen obtaining such a degree would be repaid multiple times over through the citizen’s increased contributions to the economy and tax base;
(5) West Virginia is currently facing a devastating drug epidemic, and the hope that comes with increased access to career education and higher quality employment opportunities is an indispensable tool against the spread of drug addiction; and
(6) An investment by the state into increasing access to post-secondary career education will provide its citizens the hope and opportunity for better career opportunities and will provide the state with the trained workforce needed to attract significant economic development.
(b) The purpose of this article is to provide West Virginians with hope and economic prosperity by increasing access to a higher level of career education that is needed to fulfill the needs of today’s workforce and provide for further economic development.
As used in this article:
(1) “Council” means the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education;
(2) “Eligible institution” means:
(A) A state community and technical college institution under the authority of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education satisfying the requirements of participating in Advanced Career Education (ACE) program partnerships in accordance with §18-2E-11 of this code; or
(B) A regionally accredited, two-year institution that provides workforce development and academic transfer programs satisfying the requirements of participating in ACE program partnerships in accordance with §18-2E-11 of this code;
(3) “Eligible post-secondary program” means a curriculum of courses leading to a certificate or associate degree at an eligible institution which satisfies a course of study that has been deemed to satisfy a workforce need as determined by the Department of Commerce in accordance with §18-2E-11(d) of this code; and
(4) “Tuition” means the semester or term charges imposed by an eligible institution and, additionally, all mandatory fees required as a condition of enrollment by all students.
§18C-9-4. WV Invests Grant Program.
(a) There is hereby created a grant program known as the WV Invests Grant Program, which shall be administered by the vice chancellor for administration in accordance with this article.
(b) The council shall award WV Invests Grants pursuant to the following terms and conditions:
(1) A WV Invests Grant may be awarded only to applicants satisfying the requirements provided in §18C-9-5 of this code;
(2) The maximum amount of a WV Invests Grant shall be the cost of tuition charged to all students for coursework leading to completion of the chosen associate degree or certificate, less all other state and federal scholarships and grants for which the student is eligible. All other state and federal scholarships and grants for which the grant recipient is eligible shall be deducted from the amount of the WV Invests Grant for each individual student;
(3) Grant payments shall be made directly to the eligible institutions;
(4) In the event that a grant recipient transfers from one eligible institution to another, the grant is transferable only with approval of the vice chancellor for administration;
(5) A WV Invests Grant may be used at any eligible institution to seek an associate degree or certificate in an eligible post-secondary program. An institution is not required to accept a grant recipient for enrollment and may enforce its own admission requirements, standards, and policies; and
(6) If a WV Invests Grant recipient terminates enrollment for any reason during the academic year, the unused portion of the grant shall be returned by the institution to the council in accordance with the council’s policy for issuing refunds. The council shall transfer the funds to the WV Invests Fund for allocation and expenditure.
(c) On or before January 1 of each year, the council shall provide to the Legislature and the Governor a report on the WV Invests Grant Program, which shall include, but not be limited to, research and data concerning student success and grant retention.
(d) The council shall propose rules for legislative approval pursuant to §29A-3A-1 et seq. of this code to implement the provisions of this article, which shall provide for:
(1) Application requirements and deadlines;
(2) Appeal procedures for the denial or revocation of the grant; and
(3) Any other provisions necessary to effectuate the purposes of this article.
(e) The Legislature hereby declares that an emergency situation exists and, therefore, the council may establish, by emergency rule, under the procedures of §29A-3A-1 et seq. of this code, a rule to implement the provisions of this article.
§18C-9-5. Eligibility requirements; agreements.
(a) To be eligible for a WV Invests Grant, an individual must satisfy the following requirements:
(1) Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States and have been a resident of West Virginia for at least one year immediately preceding the date of application for a grant;
(2) Have completed a secondary education program in a public, private, or home school;
(3) Have not been previously awarded a post-secondary degree;
(4) Be at least 18 years of age: Provided, That individuals younger than 18 years of age may qualify for the grant upon completion of a secondary education program in a public, private, or home school;
(5) Meet the admission requirements of, and be admitted into, an eligible institution;
(6) Satisfactorily meet any additional qualifications of enrollment, academic promise, or achievement as established by the council through rule;
(7) Have filed a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the academic year in which the grant award is sought;
(8) Be enrolled in an eligible post-secondary program;
(9) Be enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester;
(10) Have completed a WV Invests Grant application as provided by the council in accordance with a schedule established by the council; and
(11) Have, prior to the start of each semester, satisfactorily passed a drug test administered by the eligible institution: Provided, That the applicant shall be responsible for the actual cost of the drug test.
(b) Each grant may be renewed until the course of study is completed, if the following qualifications, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration and council, are satisfied:
(1) Maintaining satisfactory academic standing, including a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0;
(2) Making adequate progress toward completion of the eligible post-secondary program;
(3) Satisfactory participation in a community service program authorized by the council. The council shall include in its legislative rules required by §18C-9-4 of this code provisions for the administration of community service requirements, including, but not limited to, requiring completion of at least eight hours of unpaid community service during the time of study, which may include, but is not limited to, participating with nonprofit, governmental, institutional, or community-based organizations designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, meet the needs of community residents, or foster civic responsibility;
(4) Continued satisfaction of eligibility requirements provided by §18C-9-5(a) of this code; and
(5) Satisfaction of any additional eligibility criteria established by the council through legislative rule.
(c) Each recipient of a WV Invests Grant shall enter into an agreement with the vice chancellor for administration, which shall require repayment of an amount of the grant(s) awarded to the recipient, in whole or in part, if a recipient chooses to reside outside the state within two years following obtainment of the degree or certificate for which the grant(s) was awarded. The council may not require a recipient to repay grants, in whole or in part, unless the prospective recipient has been informed of this requirement in writing before initial acceptance of the grant award. Each WV Invests Grant agreement shall include the following:
(1) Disclosure of the full terms and conditions under which assistance under this article is provided and under which repayment may be required; and
(2) A description of the appeals procedure required to be established under this article.
(d) WV Invests Grant recipients found to be in noncompliance with the agreement entered into under §18C-9-5(c) of this code shall be required to repay the amount of the grant awards received, plus interest, and, where applicable, reasonable collection fees, on a schedule and at a rate of interest prescribed in rules promulgated by the council. The council shall also provide for proration of the amount to be repaid by a recipient who maintains employment in the state for a period of time within the time period required under §18C-9-5(c) of this code.
(e) A recipient is not in violation of an agreement entered into pursuant to §18C-9-5(c) of this code during any period in which the recipient is meeting any of the following conditions:
(1) Pursuing a half-time course of study at an accredited institution of higher education;
(2) Serving as a member of the armed services of the United States;
(3) Failing to comply with the terms of the agreement due to death or permanent or temporary disability as established by sworn affidavit of a qualified physician; or
(4) Satisfying the provisions of any additional repayment exemptions prescribed by the council through rule.
§18C-9-6. WV Invests Fund; established.
(a) There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue fund to be known as the WV Invests Fund, which may consist of:
(1) All appropriations by the Legislature for the WV Invests Fund;
(2) Any gifts, grants, or contributions received for the WV Invests Fund; and
(3) All interest or other income earned from investment of the WV Invests Fund.
(b) The WV Invests Fund shall be expended for the purpose of administering the WV Invests Grant Program, including the awarding of grants authorized by this article. Any funds remaining in the fund at the close of the fiscal year are carried forward for use in the next fiscal year.
(c) Nothing in this section requires any specific level of funding by the Legislature nor guarantees or entitles any individual to any benefit or grant of funds.
(d) The vice chancellor for administration may expend the moneys in the fund to implement the provisions of this article.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to improve access to career education through the establishment of Advanced Career Education (ACE) programs and the WV Invests Grant Program.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.