(a) It is the purpose of this article and article four-a of this chapter to improve the quality of education in the public schools of West Virginia by encouraging and enabling individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic abilities to pursue teaching careers at the preschool, elementary, middle or secondary levels in the public schools of this state. In addition, of those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic abilities to pursue teaching careers, for scholarships initially awarded for the fall semester, 2014, and thereafter, particular efforts shall be made in the scholarship selection criteria and procedures to reflect the state's present and projected subject and geographic areas of critical need.
(b) In consultation with the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Schools the commission shall propose legislative rules in accordance with the provisions of article three-a, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. The rules shall provide for the administration of the Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship and Loan Assistance programs by the vice chancellor for administration in furtherance of the purposes of this article and article four-a of this chapter, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Establishing scholarship selection criteria and procedures;
(2) Establishing criteria and procedures for identifying subject areas, public schools or geographic areas in critical need of teachers;
(3) Awarding loan assistance, including establishing conditions under which partial awards may be granted for less than a full year of teaching in an area of critical need;
(4) Determining eligibility for loan assistance renewal;
(5) Establishing procedures ensuring that loan assistance funds are paid directly to the proper lending entity; and
(6) Establishing criteria for determining participant compliance or noncompliance with terms of the agreement and establishing procedures to address noncompliance including, but not limited to, repayment, deferral and excusal; and
(7) Developing model agreements.
(c) There is created in the State Treasury a special revolving fund to be known as the Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship and Loan Assistance Fund to be administered by the vice chancellor for administration solely for granting scholarships and loan assistance to teachers and prospective teachers in accordance with this article and article four-a of this chapter. Any moneys which may be appropriated by the Legislature, or received by the vice chancellor for administration from other sources, for the purposes of this article and article four-a of this chapter, shall be deposited in the fund. Any moneys remaining in the fund at the close of a fiscal year shall be carried forward for use in the next fiscal year. Any moneys repaid to the vice chancellor for administration by reason of default of a scholarship or loan assistance agreement under this article or article four-a of this chapter also shall be deposited in the fund. Fund balances shall be invested with the state's consolidated investment fund, and any and all interest earnings on these investments shall be used solely for the purposes for which moneys invested were appropriated or otherwise received.
(d) The vice chancellor for administration may accept and expend any gift, grant, contribution, bequest, endowment or other money for the purposes of this article and article four-a of this chapter and shall make a reasonable effort to encourage external support for the scholarship and loan assistance programs.
(e) For the purpose of encouraging support for the scholarship and loan assistance programs from private sources, the vice chancellor for administration may set aside no more than half of the funds appropriated by the Legislature for Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarships and Loan Assistance Awards to be used to match two state dollars to each private dollar from a nonstate source contributed on behalf of a specific institution of higher education in this state.
(a) The Governor shall designate the Higher Education Student Financial Aid Advisory Board created by section five, article one of this chapter to select the recipients of Underwood-Smith teacher scholarships who meet the eligibility criteria set forth in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) Eligibility for an Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship award shall be limited to students who meet the following criteria:
(1) Have graduated or are graduating from a West Virginia high school and rank in the top ten percent of their graduating class or the top ten percent statewide of those West Virginia students taking the ACT test;
(2) Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 on a possible scale of four after successfully completing two years of course work at an approved institution of higher education in West Virginia;
(3) Are public school aides or paraprofessionals as defined in section eight, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code and who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 on a possible scale of four after successfully completing two years of course work at an approved institution of higher education in West Virginia; or
(4) Are graduate students at the master's degree level who have graduated or are graduating in the top ten percent of their college graduating class.
(c) In accordance with the rules of the commission, the vice chancellor for administration shall develop criteria and procedures for the selection of scholarship recipients. The selection criteria shall reflect the purposes of this article and shall specify the areas in which particular efforts will be made in the selection of scholars as set forth in section one of this article. Selection procedures and criteria also may include, but are not limited to, the grade point average of the applicant, involvement in extracurricular activities, financial need, current academic standing and an expression of interest in teaching as demonstrated by an essay written by the applicant. These criteria and procedures further may require the applicant to furnish letters of recommendation from teachers and others.
It is the intent of the Legislature that academic abilities be the primary criteria for selecting scholarship recipients. However, the qualified applicants with the highest academic abilities who intend to pursue teaching careers in areas of critical need and shortage pursuant to section one of this article shall be given priority.
(d) In developing the selection criteria and procedures to be used by the Higher Education Student Financial Aid Advisory Board, the vice chancellor for administration shall solicit the views of public and private education agencies and institutions and other interested parties. Input from interested parties shall be solicited by means of written and published selection criteria and procedures in final form for implementation and may be solicited by means of public hearings on the present and projected teacher needs of the state or any other methods the vice chancellor for administration may determine to be appropriate to gather the information.
(e) The vice chancellor for administration shall make application forms for Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarships available to public and private high schools in the state and in other locations convenient to applicants, parents and others, and shall make an effort to attract students from low-income backgrounds, ethnic or racial minority students, students with disabilities, and women or minority students who show interest in pursuing teaching careers in mathematics and science and who are underrepresented in those fields.
(a) Each recipient of an Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship shall enter into an agreement with the vice chancellor for administration under which the recipient shall meet the following conditions:
(1) Provide the commission with evidence of compliance with subsection (a), section four of this article;
(2) Within a ten-year period after completing the teacher education for which the scholarship was awarded:
(A) Teach full time under contract with a county board of education in a public education program in the state for a period of not fewer than two years for each year for which a scholarship was received; or
(B) Teach full time under contract for not less than one year for each year for which a scholarship was received with a county board of education in this state in a teacher shortage area pursuant to section one of this article, in an exceptional children program in this state, in a school having less than average academic results or in a school in an economically disadvantaged area of this state; or
(C) Within the ten-year period, while seeking and unable to secure a full-time teaching position under contract with a county board of education which satisfies the conditions of paragraph (A) of this subdivision:
(i) Teach full-time in a private school, parochial or other school approved for the instruction of students of compulsory school age pursuant to section one, article eight, chapter eighteen of this code; or
(ii) Teach in an institution of higher education in this state as defined in section two, article one, chapter eighteen-b of this code or in a post-secondary vocational education program in this state for a period of not fewer than two years for each year for which a scholarship was received; or
(iii) Perform alternative service or employment in this state pursuant to rules promulgated by the commission, in federal, state, county or local supported programs with an educational component, including mental or physical health care, or with bona fide tax exempt charitable organizations dedicated to the above, for a period of not fewer than two years for each year for which a scholarship was received.
Any teaching time accrued as a substitute teacher for a county board of education under paragraph (A) or (B) of this subdivision shall be credited pro rata in accordance with rules promulgated by the commission; or
(3) Repay all or part of an Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship received under this article plus interest and, if applicable, reasonable collection fees in accordance with subsection (c), section four of this article, except as provided in subsection (d) of section four of this article.
(b) Scholarship agreements shall disclose fully the terms and conditions under which assistance under this article is provided and under which repayment may be required. The agreements shall include the following:
(1) A description of the conditions and procedures to be established under section four of this article; and
(2) A description of the appeals procedure required to be established under section four of this article.
(c) Individuals who were awarded an Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship prior to the effective date of this section may apply the provisions of paragraph (A), (B) or (C), subdivision (2), subsection (a) of this section to teaching or other service performed by them after July 1, 1997.
(a) The recipient of an Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship is eligible for scholarship renewal only during those periods when the recipient meets the following conditions:
(1) Is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited institution of higher education in this state;
(2) Is pursuing a course of study leading to teacher certification at the preschool, elementary, middle or secondary level in this state;
(3) Is maintaining satisfactory progress as determined by the institution of higher education the recipient is attending; and
(4) Is complying with such other standards as the commission may establish by rule.
(b) Recipients found to be in noncompliance with the agreement entered into under section three of this article shall be required to repay the amount of the scholarship awards received, plus interest, and, where applicable, reasonable collection fees, on a schedule and at a rate of interest prescribed in the program guidelines. Guidelines also shall provide for proration of the amount to be repaid by a recipient who teaches for part of the period required under subsection (a), section three of this article and for appeal procedures under which a recipient may appeal any determination of noncompliance.
(c) A recipient is not in violation of the agreement entered into under section three of this article during any period in which the recipient is meeting any of the following conditions:
(1) Pursuing a full-time course of study at an accredited institution of higher education;
(2) Serving, not in excess of four years, as a member of the armed services of the United States;
(3) Seeking and unable to find full-time employment in accordance with paragraph (A), subdivision (2), subsection (a), section three of this article and is fulfilling any of the alternatives specified in paragraph (B) or (C) of that subdivision;
(4) Satisfying the provisions of additional repayment exemptions that may be prescribed by the commission by rule; or
(5) Failing to comply with the terms of the agreement due to death or permanent or temporary disability as established by sworn affidavit of a qualified physician.
(d) The rules adopted by the commission may provide guidelines under which the vice chancellor for administration may extend the period for fulfilling the obligation to fifteen years, if extenuating circumstances exist.
(a) Subject to subsection (b) of this section, each recipient of an Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship is eligible to receive assistance of up to five thousand dollars for each academic year of higher education in preparation for becoming a preschool, elementary, middle or secondary teacher in the public schools of this state. No individual may receive scholarship assistance for more than four academic years for the completion of a bachelor's degree and two academic years for completion of a master's degree.
(b) No individual shall receive a scholarship award under this article which exceeds the cost of attendance at the institution the individual is attending. The cost of attendance shall be based upon the actual cost of tuition and fees, and reasonable allowances for books, educational supplies, room and board and other expenses necessitated by individual circumstances, in accordance with the program guidelines. For the purposes of establishing an award amount, the senior administrator shall take into account the amount of financial aid assistance the recipient has or will receive from all other sources. If the amount of the Underwood-Smith teacher scholarship assistance award and the amount of assistance awards which the recipient has received from all other sources exceed the cost of attendance, the institution's financial aid officer, in consultation with the scholar, will determine what aid is to be reduced and shall do so in a manner to the best advantage of thescholar.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.