West Virginia Governor Justice Declares State of Emergency Due to FAFSA Problems

Due to challenges with the federal government’s implementation of a new student aid application, Governor Jim Justice announced a state of emergency on Tuesday and suspended the requirement for high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to access state financial aid, such as the Promise Scholarship and Higher Education Grant Program.

Mandatory for federal student aid applications, the FAFSA form underwent a comprehensive overhaul—an unprecedented move in over four decades—to simplify the process, as detailed in West Virginia Watch.

The revisions aim to increase financial aid eligibility, particularly for low-income students. Despite launching in January, three months later than usual, the new application has faced numerous technical issues causing delays.

Gov. Justice noted a 40% decline in high school FAFSA completions in West Virginia due to FAFSA problems, leaving students uncertain about college opportunities.

During his administration briefing, Justice explained the state of emergency declaration to bypass FAFSA challenges and ensure students receive state funding promptly.

Under this measure, eligible students applying for the Promise Scholarship by Sept. 1, 2024, can receive awards of up to $5,500 for the 2024-25 academic year. Qualified students who submitted a 2023-24 FAFSA can receive up to $3,400 for the fall term through the Higher Education Grant.

Students without a previous FAFSA but eligible for programs like SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid can display their eligibility letter to receive the Higher Education Grant.

In a statement, Sarah Tucker, the state’s chancellor of higher education, emphasized the financial strain of college costs, especially for low-income students, highlighting West Virginia’s annual investment of over $100 million in student aid programs.

Tucker commended Governor Justice for enabling access to these funds irrespective of FAFSA status and urged students to complete the FAFSA for additional financial support.

The Department of Education urged students to complete the FAFSA, confirming resolution of earlier application issues as reported by The Washington Post.

Justice advised students and parents to contact the state hotline at 1-877-987-7664 or visit https://www.collegeforwv.com for aid application assistance.

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