(a) The Legislature makes the following findings:
(1) Although enrollments in institutions of higher education in this state and throughout the nation continue to increase at a rapid pace, West Virginia has not developed sufficiently the state's human talent and resources because many able, but needy, students are not able to finance a higher education program;
(2) The state can achieve its full economic and social potential only when the following elements are in place:
(A) Every individual has the opportunity to contribute to the full extent of his or her capability; and
(B) The state assists in removing financial barriers to the individual's education goals that remain after he or she has used all resources and work opportunities available;
(b) The ultimate state goal in providing student financial aid is to create a culture that values education, to improve the quality of the workforce and to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of West Virginia.
(c) The Vice Chancellor for Administration has a ministerial duty to administer, oversee and monitor all state and federal student financial aid programs administered at the state level in accordance with established rules under the direction of the commission and council and in consultation with the Higher Education Student Financial Aid Advisory Board.
(d) These programs include, but are not limited to, the following programs:
(1) The Guaranteed Student Loan Program, which may be administered by a private nonprofit agency;
(2) The Medical Student Loan Program;
(3) The Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program;
(4) The Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship Program;
(5) The West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program;
(6) The Higher Education Adult Part-Time Student Grant Program;
(7) The West Virginia Providing Real Opportunities for Maximizing In-State Student Excellence (PROMISE) Scholarship Program;
(8) The Higher Education Student Assistance Loan Program established pursuant to article twenty-two-d, chapter eighteen of this code;
(9) The West Virginia College Prepaid Tuition and Savings Program established pursuant to article thirty, chapter eighteen of this code, which is administered by the state Treasurer;
(10) The state aid programs for students of optometry, pursuant to article three of this chapter;
(11) The state aid programs for students of veterinary medicine pursuant to section six-a, article eleven, chapter eighteen of this code;
(12) Any reciprocal program and contract program for student aid established pursuant to sections three and four, article four, chapter eighteen-b of this code;
(13) Any other state-level student aid programs in this code; and
(14) Any federal grant or contract student assistance or support programs administered at the state level.
(e) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, the Vice Chancellor for Administration shall prepare a single, comprehensive report regarding the implementation of the financial aid programs identified in subsection (d) of this section which are administered under his or her supervision. The report shall be provided to the commission and the council and shall be presented to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability no later than November 30, 2009, and annually thereafter. The report shall address all financial aid issues for which reports are required in this code, as well as any findings and recommendations.
Definitions for terms used in this chapter have the meanings ascribed to them in section two, article one, chapter eighteen-b of this code unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(a) "Board" or "governing board" in the singular or plural means the vice chancellor for administration employed pursuant to section two, article four, chapter eighteen-b of this code when a power or duty assigned to a governing board is delegated by it to the senior administrator. In other instances as used in this chapter, "board" or "governing board" in the singular or plural means the Higher Education Policy Commission or the Council for Community and Technical College Education, as appropriate.
(b) "Senior administrator" means the vice chancellor for administration employed pursuant to section two, article four, chapter eighteen-b of this code.
(a) Legislative findings:
(1) Education attainment is inextricably linked to economic development, and, in the current global economy, the state is competing not only with other states, but also with other countries;
(2) The federal government no longer funds student financial aid as generously as it has in the past. Therefore, the state must commit to increase both access and affordability to higher education opportunities for its citizens;
(3) In recent years the state has substantially increased appropriations to both merit-based and need-based student financial aid programs;
(4) The ultimate state goal in providing student financial aid is to create a culture that values education and improves the quality of the state's workforce, thereby enhancing the quality of life for its citizens;
(5) The state can provide a successful system of student financial aid only by balancing the needs of students from all levels of financial need and academic ability;
(6) A comprehensive system of student financial aid will yield the maximum return on the state's investment by increasing the skills, qualifications and education achievement of citizens from all backgrounds; and
(7) Sources of student financial aid can be distinguished as providing either access or affordability to higher education opportunities;
(8) Access refers to a student's financial ability to pursue post-secondary education. Affordability refers a student's freedom to choose where to attend college based on available resources;
(9) West Virginia is committed to making post-secondary education both accessible and affordable for its citizens. To this end, it is essential that the state provide multiple financial aid programs which accomplish different goals;
(b) Purposes of financial aid programs:
(1) The West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program is a need-based program that provides funding primarily to traditional college-age students who do not have sufficient financial resources to attempt post-secondary education. This grant program is a vitally important source of financial assistance for needy residents of the state and should continue to receive strong financial support.
(2) The HEAPS Grant Program is a need-based program that provides funding primarily to nontraditional college students, including:
(A) Adult students who desire to pursue post-secondary education on a part-time basis and who do not qualify for other forms of financial assistance;
(B) Place-bound students, often parents employed full-time, who require evening and weekend access to college courses; and
(C) Individuals pursuing workforce training or skill development training necessary to enter the job market quickly.
(3) The Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program is a merit-based program that encourages students who have demonstrated outstanding academic abilities to pursue teaching careers. This program serves to meet West Virginia's statewide, geographic and discipline-specific needs for highly qualified teachers.
(4) The West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship Program is a merit-based program that encourages talented students to pursue baccalaureate degrees in engineering, science and technology-related disciplines. This program serves to increase the size and quality of the pool of individuals pursuing careers in engineering, science and technology-related fields.
(5) The PROMISE Scholarship Program is a merit-based program that enhances student achievement by encouraging high school students to work harder to attain the necessary grades and test scores to qualify for a PROMISE scholarship and provides an incentive for the most capable students to attend college in the state. PROMISE provides affordability to traditional college-age students.
(c) An appropriate blend of student financial aid programs provides the state with the necessary tools to educate its citizenry for a broad range of economic opportunities:
(1) Without proper funding for need-based programs, lower income students may not be able to realize their full potential; (2) Adults may not obtain the training they need to compete in the current and future job market;
(3) High-achieving students may not pursue rigorous courses in high school or attend college in West Virginia, all of which contribute to devaluing post-secondary education and perpetuating the culture of educational underachievement; and
(4) The state must continue to strive to support equally the need-based and merit-based student financial aid programs.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code or rule to the contrary, a student who attended a public or private high school outside the state is eligible for state funded student financial aid, grants and scholarships if:
(1) The student meets all other eligibility requirements for the aid, grant or scholarship; and
(2) The student resided in West Virginia while attending high school in another state, and:
(A) The student resided with his or her parent or legal guardian who:
(i) Was a resident of this state; and
(ii) Had been a resident of this state for at least two years immediately preceding the student's attendance at the school;
(B) The student commuted during the school term on a daily basis from this state to the school;
(C) The student is a dependent of the parent or legal guardian upon which eligibility is based;
(D) The student has not established domicile outside the state; and
(E) At the discretion of the state Superintendent of Schools, as defined in section one, article one, chapter eighteen of this code:
(i) The school is fully accredited in that state to the degree acceptable to the state Superintendent of Schools; and
(ii) The school's curriculum requirements for graduation are equivalent to the curriculum requirements for graduation in this state, or sufficiently similar to those requirements, as determined by the state Superintendent of Schools; or
(3) The student resided and attended high school in another state or a United States territory, United States possession or foreign country and:
(A) The student resided with his or her parent or legal guardian; and
(B) The student's parent or legal guardian:
(i) Served in the United States Armed Forces while the student attended high school in such state, territory, possession or country;
(ii) Was stationed for military purposes in such state, territory, possession or country; and
(iii) Maintained legal residence in West Virginia while stationed in such state, territory, possession or country.
(b) This section does not alter, amend or extend any application deadlines or other requirements established by law or policy.
(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;
(7) Study feasibility of including for-profit institutions as eligible institutions for PROMISE scholarship awards and requirements, if any, for inclusion; and
(8) Recommend rules that align with the goals, objectives and priorities set forth in section one-a, article one, chapter eighteen-b of this code and article one-d of said chapter 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:
(A) Three members appointed by the commission;
(B) Two members appointed by the council;
(C) One member appointed by the West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities; and
(D) One member appointed by the West Virginia School Counselor Association.
(2) Members appointed by the commission and the council shall possess a broad knowledge of state and federal higher education student financial aid programs and have experience in administering these programs, preferably at the 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) 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) 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.
(e) 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 chairperson.
(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.