Keeping the PROMISE? A study of West Virginia's merit -based scholarship program

Patricia White Hunt, University of Pennsylvania


The West Virginia merit-based scholarship program, PROMISE (Providing Real Opportunities for Maximizing In-state Student Excellence) was introduced in 1999 as a mechanism to provide academically strong high school graduates with an incentive to attend West Virginia colleges or universities. The purpose of this research was to conduct an in-depth investigative study into the West Virginia PROMISE merit-based scholarship program. This research first examined existing data to determine the race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the first fully funded 2002-2003 cohort of PROMISE students and compared these variables to the overall makeup of the state using census data. A longitudinal trend analysis was then conducted on this first cohort, tracking them through subsequent years of college to determine how PROMISE completers (those who kept PROMISE throughout all 4 years of college differed from PROMISE non-completers. The findings from examining existing data of all 4 cohorts of PROMISE students revealed similar statistics to other research of merit-based scholarship programs. Whites, females, and higher income students all had a significantly higher participation in the PROMISE program than their representative population percentages and continued to keep their scholarships at a higher rate throughout all 4 years. A second part of this research was to conduct a survey of PROMISE students to determine whether or not they intended to remain in the state after graduation and what factors influenced their decisions. From the 36% of PROMISE graduates who responded to the survey, 42% had a job or planned on obtaining one by the end of 2006 and of these 76% planned on working in West Virginia. A similar high retainage of students in West Virginia was seen in the 50% of survey respondents who were pursing an advanced degree or plan to do so by the end of 2006, 73% planned on pursing their advanced degree in West Virginia.

Subject Area

School finance|School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Hunt, Patricia White, "Keeping the PROMISE? A study of West Virginia's merit -based scholarship program" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255871.