WV Senate considers cutting funds to universities with low graduation rates

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SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — The West Virginia Senate has been considering a bill that places financial conditions on colleges and universities that do not graduate 45 percent of their students within six years.

It’s a struggle between the schools, lawmakers and the state Higher Education Policy Commission based in Charleston.

Mountain State institutions of higher learning say the era when high school graduates hunkered down for four straight years at a university after earning their high school diplomas is long gone.

“We have employers here in Berkeley County and Jefferson County that want flexibility with their workforce still on track to complete their education,” says K. Alan Perdue, general counsel at Shepherd University.

Jane Hamann is an admissions officer at Shepherd and says a good many students enroll in college at 18 or 19 “and realize they’re just not ready. They leave. They come back.” The four-year track is more the exception than the rule these days, she observes.

The proposal in the state capital also sets several benchmarks for state schools beyond the graduation rates, such as freshman enrollment retention and meeting certain financial criteria subject to audit.

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