CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) will once again ask the Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to consider exempting higher education student financial aid programs from budget cuts in next year’s state budget.
“This is the pipeline of students who are going to lead the state in the future,” said state Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill. “It’s our workforce development.”
The HEPC made the same request last year, but it was not granted. Hill said that cost students in the end because college and universities increased tuition.
“It ended up causing an additional increase for the situations to pay the additional to bring the overall budget down to a 7.5 percent reduction,” said Hill.
The HEPC last week approved a resolution to make the same exemption request as more budget cuts are expected in the coming year.
“We just simply felt that this year it was going to be difficult to do that again and ask them to continue to absorb an additional cost,” said Hill.
The cuts are impacting key financial aid programs such as the need-based WV Higher Education Grant, which a lot of high school students in West Virginia lean on in order to pursue a college education.
Hill said by making cuts to the financial aid programs, the state is hindering its economic future.
“When 49 percent of all the jobs in the next five years are going to require some form of education beyond high school, we really need to keep that pipeline going,” he explained.
Hill added that it is necessary to provide opportunities of financial assistance to low-income students so they can afford to get the education they need to succeed in the job markets of tomorrow. If the state can’t provide that, then students and the economy will suffer he said.