Declining High School Population Could Ease Burden On Promise

Tinesheia Howard is seen in the library at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Ill., April 21, 2008. Howard spent 18 months in a homeless shelter while attending Chicago's North Lawndale College Preparatory High School and says she supports a Chicago Public Schools proposal to create boarding schools or residential programs for students who are homeless or whose academic progress is being stymied by chaotic conditions outside school. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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Charleston, WV (AP) -- West Virginia's Promise Scholarship Program is on solid financial footing -- for now.

Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Brian Noland reports smoothing sailing ahead for the 2008-2009 academic year, but warns of possible problems after that.

Part of the problem is the rising cost of college.

West Virginia's public colleges and universities are weighing tuition hikes of between 7 and 9.5 percent this fall. Since Promise covers college costs for students who win the scholarships, that means the fund's budget has to be increased.

The program currently has a budget of 41.6 million dollars and pays for some or all tuition costs for roughly 9,200 students in West Virginia.

There is some hope on the horizon, though. The number of students graduating high school in West Virginia is expected to peak this year, and then begin to decline.

That should offer some relief for the program's budget.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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