The West Virginia Senate Education Committee approved sweeping legislation Tuesday that will establish state-funded education savings accounts that will allow public school students to transfer to a private school or be homeschooled.
HB 2013 establishes the Hope Scholarship Program that would provide an estimated per-pupil scholarship of $4,600 that families can use for a variety of specified educational expenses such as private school tuition, tutoring and afterschool programs. An initial enrollment cap of 2% would make about 5,118 students eligible.
Beginning in 2026, all students in private and homeschools – about 22,500 – would be eligible for the scholarship if total program participation is less than 5% of statewide student enrollment based on 2023-24 numbers.
Committee chair Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, who voted in favor of the bill, related her own experience as the mother of five children, two with special needs. Rucker said local public schools in her area did not offer enough flexibility for her family.
“I want every option available so that there is no child that falls through the cracks that doesn’t get what they need,” Rucker said.
Initial rollout of the Hope Scholarship Program is expected to cost the state about $23 million in its first year, according to a fiscal note provided by the West Virginia Department of Education.
The Department estimates expansion of the program could cost the state an additional $100 million a year beginning in the 2027-28 academic year if all current homeschool and private school students participate.
The bill now heads to the Finance Committee for further consideration.