CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Around 2,000 students are going to college for free, according to Sarah Tucker, chancellor for the state Community and Technical College System, as part of the West Virginia Invests Grant Program.

The program, called “last dollar in” and put into place with the passage of Senate Bill 1 last legislative session, was available for the first time headed into the fall semester.

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Sarah Tucker

“We’ve got 2,000 students who are going to school for free in the state of West Virginia,” Tucker told MetroNews. “Either because they got money directly from the grant, or because they applied for the FAFSA and found out they have enough money to go to college anyway.”

Tucker said 800 students have received the scholarship and 1,200 learned they could get full funding for community and technical colleges through the federal Pell Grant when they applied for the FAFSA. Application to the FAFSA is required during the process for the program

The average cost of tuition and fees in community and technical colleges is $4045, according to Tucker.

“We have lots of people out there in West Virginia who are able to afford to go to college but just don’t know it,” she said.

Tucker said the program is well within the $10 million allocation set out in the bill.

Numbers are expected to rise by the beginning of next school year with a full marketing campaign scheduled, Tucker said.

Right now, the highest enrolled programs include nursing, health sciences, cyber-security, aviation maintenance technology, applied process technology and manufacturing, electrical utility technology, and welding technology.

Participants must meet the following requirements:

– Legal residency in West Virginia for at least one year immediately before applying;
– Graduation from a public, private or homeschool program or passage of a high school equivalency test;
– No prior earned college degrees (associate level or higher);
– Commitment to live in West Virginia for at least two years after graduation and completion of at least two hours of unpaid community service each academic term;
– Meeting minimum admissions requirements at an eligible institution and registration for at least six credit hours;
– Payment and passage of a drug screening before the start of each academic term.

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