(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) West Virginia must have an educated work force in order to attract and retain the high wage, high skill jobs of the twenty-first century;
(2) A large percentage of West Virginia residents who graduate from the state's colleges and universities do not work in the state following graduation;
(3) The percentage of West Virginia's adult population over the age of twenty-five with at least a baccalaureate degree is less than fifteen percent and does not compare favorably with the member states of the Southern Regional Education Board average nor with the national average of twenty-five percent;
(4) Higher levels of education attainment result in higher levels of personal income over a lifetime;
(5) Students who acquire a baccalaureate degree will earn an estimated $1 million more over their lifetimes than those who attain only a high school diploma. This translates into an increased tax base and economic development for West Virginia and more discretionary income for its citizens;
(6) Students at all education levels should have an incentive to perform at a high academic level;
(7) There is a need to provide parents with all tools possible to aid them in helping their children understand the importance of high academic achievement in high school and college;
(8) The PROMISE Scholarship Program is highly successful and should be maintained with merit as its strongest component. The merit component:
(A) Provides an incentive for students to set high academic standards in high school;
(B) Encourages students to increase their high school achievement levels;
(C) Encourages students to enroll in more rigorous courses;
(D) Effects a culture change in West Virginia towards increased education attainment;
(E) Results in improved ACT scores in the state since the inception of the program; and
(F) Influences increased numbers of students, including those students who are the highest academic achievers, to remain in West Virginia to attend college.
(b) It is the purpose of this article to continue the West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship Program to deal effectively with the findings set forth in this section.
(c) Nothing in this article guarantees:
(1) A PROMISE scholarship award or any specific amount of a PROMISE scholarship award to any student; or
(2) That the requirements necessary for a student to qualify for a PROMISE scholarship will not be changed by legislation or rule before the student is eligible to receive an award.