W.Va. must continue with college incentive

With the very worst education attainment level in the nation, West Virginia simply must encourage more young people to go to college or career school. Making higher education more affordable is a key to that.

Since 2002, the Mountain State has funded the P.R.O.M.I.S.E. scholarship program for that reason. But during recent years, there has been talk of cuts in funding for it, for the obvious reason that it has been exceedingly difficult for governors and legislatures to balance the state budget.

That would be a mistake, as House of Delegates member William “Roger” Romine points out. He speaks with special authority because of his announcement he will not seek re-election this year.

Romine, R-Tyler, clearly is concerned about the matter. A career educator himself, one of his House assignments is the Education Committee.

As he noted to our reporter, lawmakers already have shaved some spending from P.R.O.M.I.S.E., by making requirements for it more stringent. Currently, 3.0 high school grade-point averages and either a 22 on the ACT examination or a 1,100 on the SAT are required. For that, P.R.O.M.I.S.E. recipients can get as much as $4,700 a year to attend in-state schools.

Romine has a point about retaining the P.R.O.M.I.S.E. program to encourage post-high school education. But there is another part of the equation — the cost of higher education.

Colleges and universities in the Mountain State have, like peer institutions elsewhere, increased tuition and fees steadily for years. Rare indeed is the announcement like that from Glenville State College last year, that it will reduce tuition.

Even that, however, came with a gigantic downside.

Glenville officials said money for the tuition cut would be raised by eliminating $600,000 in scholarships offered currently.

Finding better ways to hold down the cost of higher education should be as big a priority as providing scholarships such as the P.R.O.M.I.S.E.

For now, however, Romine is right to insist the legislators keep funding for P.R.O.M.I.S.E. at its current level.