Online Colleges in West Virginia
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Many West Virginia colleges and universities offer tuition rates far below the national average for residents, out-of-state students, and distance learners alike. The state also provides a variety of scholarships and other financial aid opportunities in an effort to make higher education more affordable and accessible to all. Over the last several years, the Mountain State has sponsored several initiatives to improve educational standards and increase student enrollment statewide.
In the following guide, we cover useful information to help you find the best online college in West Virginia. Read on to learn more about popular majors, the expected cost of attendance, and the economic outlook in the state. We’ve also included a list of scholarships and other resources to help you get started on the path to a new degree.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in West Virginia
West Virginia’s unemployment rate stands considerably higher than the national average. While many different economic and social factors influence unemployment rates, college graduates around the country enjoy more job opportunities and higher earning potential than individuals who only hold a high school diploma. Although a college education does not guarantee a specific career or salary level, degree holders in every state boast better job security than other workers. Many positions in West Virginia’s top industries, including healthcare and education, require at least a bachelor’s degree. Individuals who earn a degree from one of the best online colleges in West Virginia become better equipped to adapt to changing economies, within the state and beyond.
Falling below the national average, West Virginia’s annual mean wage reflects the state’s lower cost of living. West Virginia workers may earn less than individuals in other states, but they also pay less for rent, utilities, food, and transportation. Many candidates find that West Virginia offers an ideal blend of affordable living, quality colleges and universities, and ample student resources and funding.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in West Virginia
Thanks to West Virginia’s low cost of living, many of the state’s colleges and universities offer tuition rates below the national average. While two-year community and junior colleges tend to cost more than average, the cost of attendance at four-year public colleges is significantly lower. Although tuition rates vary according to school policies, degree level, and student residence status, earning a bachelor’s degree costs less, on average, in West Virginia than in many other states.
Along with tuition, students must cover additional costs such as course materials, books, lab fees, and room and board. Fortunately, West Virginia’s low cost of living makes it easier for candidates to pay for many of these college-related expenses. Some students further reduce educational costs by earning a degree online. Many distance education programs charge tuition rates similar to traditional on-campus programs, although some even cost less. Additionally, students who pursue a degree online can often avoid many expenses associated with on-campus learning, including relocation, transportation, housing, and facility fees. In addition, online degrees tend to feature flexible schedules, allowing distance learners to remain employed while they complete their studies.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in West Virginia
Public colleges and universities receive state funding to help cover operational expenses. Because nonresidents do not regularly contribute to this funding by paying as many state taxes, nearly every public college and university charges higher tuition for out-of-state students than resident learners. The following table demonstrates the sharp contrast between average in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. Despite offering relatively inexpensive tuition overall, West Virginia schools charge nonresidents 2-3 times more than in-state students.
While some candidates choose to establish state residency before enrolling in classes, this process usually takes around one year. Others learners begin their studies by taking online courses. Many institutions charge the same per-credit rate for online programs, regardless of a student's state of residence. Although some schools charge online students a technology fee, distance education is typically much more affordable than paying out-of-state tuition at an on-campus program.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in West Virginia
Attending one of the best online colleges in West Virginia can be expensive, and most students rely on financial aid to help pay for school. Financial aid comes in many forms and from many different sources, including the federal and state governments. Submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines your eligibility to receive federal funding, including loans, grants, work-study programs, and scholarships. Federal student loans feature relatively low interest rates and generous repayment options, making them significantly more attractive than private loans.
West Virginia students also enjoy many state-sponsored funding opportunities. Unlike student loans, grants do not need to be repaid, although state grants usually only target resident students. In addition, many schools, nonprofits, companies, and religious groups offer scholarships based on financial need, academic merit, and/or community engagement. Similar to grants, scholarships do not need to be repaid after graduation.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for West Virginia College Students
The following scholarships and financial aid programs represent a small sample of the funding opportunities available to students attending online colleges in West Virginia.
Who Can Apply: Graduate and undergraduate students pursuing a degree in environmental science or engineering from an eligible college can apply for this award.
Who Can Apply: Open to recent West Virginia high school graduates who hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and an ACT score of at least 22 or an SAT score of at least 1,100. Applications must be submitted within two years of graduation.
Amount: Up to $4,750
Who Can Apply: Students must be pursuing a degree in engineering, science, or technology. Applicants must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher and agree to work in a STEM field in West Virginia for at least a year after graduating.
Amount: Up to $3,000
Who Can Apply: West Virginia residents earning a teaching degree can apply. Applicants must agree to work at a West Virginia school for 1-2 years, depending on the district, for every year of funding they receive.
Amount: Up to $5,000 per year
Who Can Apply: This grant targets first-time West Virginia college students. Students must be U.S. citizens attending a West Virginia or Pennsylvania institution. They must also demonstrate financial need and academic promise.
Amount: Up to $2,700
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants must attend an accredited West Virginia college on a part-time basis. The scholarship can be renewed up to nine times.
Amount: Up to $2,000 per year
Who Can Apply: This loan program is available to medical students attending one of three West Virginia universities. Recipients obtain up to $10,000 of loan forgiveness for each year they serve in an in-state medical position.
Amount: Up to $10,000 per year
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled at least half time in an accredited nursing program at a West Virginia institution can apply. Recipients must work in the state for one year for each year of funding they receive.
Who Can Apply: High school seniors or college students pursuing or intending to seek an agriculture-related degree can apply for this award. Applicants must also reside within MidAtlantic Farm Credit’s territory.
Who Can Apply: King's Daughters offers a scholarship for first-year students studying a degree related to healthcare. Applicants must reside in one of six counties, including Wayne County in West Virginia. Recipients must maintain a 2.5 GPA or better.
Best Majors for Online Students in West Virginia
Low population growth and degree attainment levels in the state have resulted in slow job growth, with many new positions replacing existing jobs. However, conditions may improve as West Virginia strives to improve college enrollment and completion through a series of new initiatives. The state is also looking to expand and improve on its K-12 education system, beginning with several programs intended to help West Virginia teachers pay for college. With similar programs in place for healthcare students, West Virginia may be an appealing state for candidates interested in pursuing a degree or career in education, medicine, or healthcare. The following majors are popular among students at the best online colleges in West Virginia.
Child Development and Family StudiesEarly childhood education plays an important role in young students’ future academic achievement. Qualified preschool teachers and elementary educators are in high demand throughout West Virginia, and the state sponsors numerous programs to help prospective instructors pay for college and find work after graduation.
Nursing ProgramsIn response to the nationwide nurse shortage, more schools are hosting nursing programs online, including RN-to-BSN bridge programs. As part of its effort to strengthen its healthcare infrastructure, West Virginia offers several incentives for nursing students to learn and work in the state, including loan repayment programs.
Social WorkThese professionals tend to see high demand in states with higher unemployment rates. While many social work positions require at least a master's degree, low tuition rates in West Virginia make it an affordable place for prospective social workers to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies.
Resources for Online College Students in West Virginia
Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Loan Assistance Program: Sponsored by the College Foundation of West Virginia, this program helps West Virginia teachers pay off their student loans through service. Eligible instructors employed at underserved schools or teaching in high-demand subjects may receive up to $3,000 a year towards their student debt for up to five years.
West Virginia Health Sciences Service Program: This initiative provides funding for candidates enrolled in their final year of participating health services programs. Qualifying medical or dental students can receive up to $30,000 to help pay of their student debt, while individuals enrolled in other programs can receive up to $15,000.
College Foundation of West Virginia: Suitable for students seeking to attend college in West Virginia, this website offers scholarship and financial aid information, tuition calculators, and planning models geared toward high school students.
West Virginia's State Website: West Virginia’s official website contains a variety of resources for residents and individuals considering moving to or doing business in the state. The site also provides educational information, including financial aid facts and residency requirements.
West Virginia's Climb: This program helps workers navigate the state’s changing economy by encouraging West Virginians to pursue higher education. The program’s goal is to see at least 60% of West Virginia residents earn a degree or certificate by 2030.