Students entering Catholic schools to be eligible for Hope Scholarship Program

West Virginia

WHEELING/CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston say families with students entering Catholic schools across the state are now eligible to apply for the Hope Scholarship Program, and those with students already enrolled might become eligible to apply in 2026.

Officials with the Diocese say the State Treasurer’s Office will be establishing a board to oversee and regulate the scholarship program, which was created when West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed House Bill 2013 into law in March. This program creates Educational Savings Accounts that will assist eligible families in investing in options for education other than public schooling.

According to Diocese officials, families who have children entering kindergarten or children transferring from public schools to non-public or homeschooling to apply for Hope Scholarship accounts through the State Treasurer’s office for the 2022-2023 school year.

“The Hope Scholarship Program can truly serve as a blessing for parents who seek a Catholic education for their children,” said the Most Reverend Mark E. Brennan, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston. “This program empowers parents and families to make decisions about how best to educate their children and in so doing is in keeping with a key tenet of the Catholic faith: that parents are the primary educators of their children.”

The funding from these scholarships can be used for tuition or for multiple educational services such as home school costs, online instruction, tutoring, or other “allowable expenses,” officials say.

“Parents partner in a particular way with our Catholic schools in the education of their children and the Hope Scholarship will help families secure a faith-and-values-based curriculum for their children that is built on centuries of excellence in our finest Catholic tradition,” Brennan said.

Diocese officials say the eligibility of families with children already enrolled in Catholic schools will also depend on the total number of families who utilize the Hope Scholarship program.

Brennan says all of the Catholic schools in the Diocese, which includes six high schools and 18 elementary schools, plan to apply to fully participate in the program in accordance with the rules the State Treasurer’s office will develop. However, the schools will not determine which families the state approves for ESA accounts.

“The Hope Scholarship program will alleviate the financial stress for so many families who would like to choose a faith-based education but have struggled to afford tuition,” Brennan said. “On behalf of our lay faithful and the pastors and principals at our Catholic schools, I am very grateful to the state legislature and Governor Justice for this wonderful opportunity; we look forward to continuing to partner with parents and families to help form and educate tomorrow’s leaders.”

Mary Ann Deschaine, Ed.S., Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston says the schools will also apply to be “education service providers” through the program, meaning that if approved, they would receive payments from the program to provide educational services and goods to Hope Scholarship students.

“Catholic schools in West Virginia are caring, diverse, values-based institutions that have historically outperformed their peer systems in academic outcomes at a cost that is a fraction of what other systems spend,” Deschaine said. “Our small classroom settings, Gospel-based programs, talented and caring educators, and investments in cutting edge technology combine with the legacy created by generations of religious brothers and sisters who helped our Diocesan Bishops make Catholic schools flourish in this Diocese.”

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