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The West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship that is designed to make college more affordable to qualified West Virginia students.

The application became available on Oct. 1, and is awarded to students who reach and surpass academic goals. This scholarship is not tied to any monetary factor. It does not depend on the financial stability, or lack thereof, of a student’s family or chosen institution is. If their grades and test score meet the requirements, they earn the money.

In order to apply for the PROMISE Scholarship, students must visit cfwv.com/promise and create a WVSAM account. The West Virginia Student Aid Management system is used to edit, submit or check the status of your PROMISE application. Be sure after you create the account, to remember the confirmation number received upon completion. The next step is filling out the FAFSA, if it has not been done already. The deadline for filling out both the FAFSA and the PROMISE application is March 1, 2019.

Students are eligible for this award when they complete, or are in the process of completing, their high school graduation requirements. This includes four math, English, and social studies credits and three sciences. Students are also required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

Test scores are another factor in determining eligibility. Students are required to take the ACT or the SAT. For each test, the score must come from a single sitting. This means that the scores cannot be super scored or combined. Once you earn the PROMISE based on your test scores, you cannot lose it if you take the test again and do not meet the requirements. However, there are other ways to lose the scholarship.

The ACT requirements include a 22 composite score and at least a 20 on every subtest. The SAT requires a total score of 1100 with a 530 in reading and writing, and a 520 in math.

The money earned from the PROMISE is specifically used to cover tuition and other mandatory fees. The scholarship awards $4,750 every year for undergraduate coursework and it goes directly to the in-state college of your choosing. This money is available up to two years after high school graduation. For example, if you were to take a gap year, the money would be there when you come back and are ready to use it.

Dual-credit courses will not affect your eligibility for the PROMISE. You can take an unlimited amount of college courses throughout you high school career. Those credits will be counted toward your cumulative GPA.

It is a renewable scholarship. To ensure it is renewed each year, you need to maintain a 2.75 GPA for the first year of college, receive 30 credit hours for full-time students, and 15 hours for part-time students.

The PROMISE scholarship is exclusively for West Virginia colleges, universities and technical schools. However, if you wish to attend an out-of-state institution, you can use the PROMISE as a bargaining chip. West Virginia will not release the money, but some out-of-state schools have been known to match the award. They cannot call it the PROMISE, but you may still get at least some of the money you earned.

Students will be notified of winning the award in April or May of 2019.