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West Virginia declares State of Emergency, suspends FAFSA requirement for WV students applying for state financial aid programs for college this year

CHARLESTON, WV — Amid ongoing problems with the U.S. Department of Education’s rollout of a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for students applying for financial aid for college this fall, Gov. Jim Justice announced today he has temporarily suspended the requirement for students to complete the FAFSA in order to qualify for the state’s largest financial aid programs.

The FAFSA is the key to unlocking financial aid for college, as it determines a student’s financial need. The federal government unveiled a new FAFSA at the beginning of this year, but the move to the new form has been a significant challenge for students and families across West Virginia and the nation. Ongoing problems with the form are preventing many high school seniors from applying for financial aid at all. In West Virginia, high school FAFSA completion rates are currently down nearly 40 percent.  

“I don’t believe any other state in the nation has gone this far, but I simply cannot and will not stand by as money sits on the table that could be helping our students continue their education,” Gov. Justice said. “Our state higher education office has been on top of this problem from the beginning. They’ve done more than 200 FAFSA workshops across the state and ramped up their outreach in every way imaginable. But there’s only so much outreach you can do when students can’t complete the form due to issues only the federal government can control. We have been left with no choice but to suspend the FAFSA requirement for our state financial aid programs, including the Promise Scholarship and the Higher Education Grant Program.”
Click here to view Gov. Justice’s Executive Order
With Gov. Justice’s proclamation, students who qualify and apply for the Promise Scholarship by September 1, 2024, will receive an award of up to $5,500 for the 2024-25 academic year.

If a student completed last year’s (2023-24) FAFSA and qualifies for the need-based Higher Education Grant, they will receive the award of up to $3,400 for the fall semester. If they don’t have a previous FAFSA on file but are eligible for one of the following programs through the West Virginia Department of Human Services (DoHS) or West Virginia Department of Health (DH), they can show their Department eligibility letter to their higher education institution’s financial aid office to receive the Higher Education Grant:

DoHSSNAPTANFMedicaidCHIPChild Care Subsidy ProgramDHWIC 
If a student or their family needs a replacement DoHS or DH eligibility letter, they can call the Office of Constituent Services’ Customer Service Hotline at 877-716-1212 to request a new one.

“We know that the cost of going to college is one of the biggest hurdles West Virginia students already face when planning for education after high school, especially our low-income students. That’s why our state has invested so strongly in our own financial aid programs – which, combined, total more than $100 million each year for West Virginia students,” Sarah Armstrong Tucker said, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education. “I thank Governor Justice for his strong leadership and allowing students to access these funds this year despite their FAFSA status. And I encourage students to continue working to complete the FAFSA so that they can get as much money from other sources, including the federal government, as possible.”

Students and families can visit https://www.collegeforwv.com/for more information and to apply for state aid programs, or call West Virginia’s financial aid hotline at 877-987-7664.