Legislative Summary: 2024 House Bill 4945

During the most recent legislative session, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, House Bill (HB) 4945. The legislation makes changes to the Hope Scholarship Program that will impact families, schools, and providers. The changes in law will go into effect on June 7, 2024.

First, the legislation mandates that Hope Scholarship students have the same educational privileges and access to programs currently available to other non-public school students. Previously, the law did not specifically grant authority for Hope students to:

  • Receive a high school diploma;
  • Receive the PROMISE Scholarship;
  • Receive a work permit; or
  • Participate in an ACE (Advanced Career Education) program

The new law ensures that Hope Scholarship students are no longer at risk of being excluded from programs and opportunities available to all other non-public school students.

Next, parents and guardians of Hope Scholarship students will now be required to immediately notify the Hope Scholarship Board if any of the following conditions occur:

  • The parent/guardian withdraws the student from the Hope Scholarship Program
  • The student successfully graduates from high school
  • The student reaches twenty-one (21) years of age
  • The student is no longer a resident of West Virginia
  • The student enrolls full-time in a public-school program

These changes are aimed at ensuring compliance with all program requirements and rules. Parents and guardians can notify the Hope Scholarship Board of any of these changes by submitting this online form or by emailing Hopescholarshipwv@wvsto.gov

Since the inception of the Hope Scholarship Program, there has been some confusion as to whether Pre-K expenses were qualifying expenses under the Program. The recent legislation clarifies that Pre-K students are not eligible for the Hope Scholarship and that only K-12 educational expenses are allowable.

For students participating in an individualized instructional program, with the passage of HB 4945, the subjects of science and social studies are now only required to be tested when they are available for the student’s grade level. Previously, the law mandated that individualized instructional program students who chose to take a nationally normed assessment to fulfill their annual academic reporting requirements were required to undergo an assessment in the subject areas of reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies. Last year, some families realized that there were no nationally normed tests available for the subjects of science and social students for certain grade levels, making it impossible to find a test that would meet the statutory requirements for their child. HB4945 corrects this issue by only requiring scores in science and socials studies if a nationally-normed test is available for those subjects for the student’s grade level. Please note: The requirement to take a nationally normed assessment or a portfolio review of the student’s academic work is only for students participating in an individualized instructional program. This is NOT a requirement for students enrolled in a non-public (private) school.

Additionally, all education service providers are currently required to submit any employee who will have contact with Hope Scholarship students to a criminal background check. The changes to the law now require all education service providers to certify to the Hope Scholarship Board that the background check does not indicate conviction of a felony involving violence and that the individual is not a federal or state sex offender. The Hope Scholarship team will be updating the education service provider agreement to include this certification.

Finally, the legislation codifies a current Hope Scholarship Board rule that prohibits education service providers from requiring a student or family to pay tuition, costs, or fees above the provider’s regular tuition and fee schedule because the student is participating in the Hope Scholarship Program.