How Education Pays in West Virginia

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When Vest Virginia began the West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship in 2001, the stated goal of the program was to keep more people in West Virginia once they graduated from college. A merit scholarship funded by video lottery revenue, PROMISE provides $4,750 a year to qualified West Virginia students who choose to attend college within West Virginia. Legislators thought that if students went to college in the state, they’d stay in the state. All of these educated people would promote innovation and economic growth.

Apparently this only sort of works. According to an article by Ry Rivard in the Charleston Daily Mail:

West Virginia college graduates gradually leave the state’s workforce as they gain experience, according to a study released Monday.

In 2008, 57 percent of 2007 graduates were working in the state, compared to only 38 percent of graduates from the class of 1997.

There’s good reason for that: The study also found West Virginia graduates working in other states earned significantly more than graduates who remained in West Virginia. Graduates working in nearby states earned an average $54,076 a year, far above the average $41,526 wage a graduate working in West Virginia earned.

So while it appears going to college in West Virginia helps keep graduates in the state for a little while eventually, as they gain more experience, they tend to trickle away from the state. Of PROMISE scholars who graduated from college in 2006 and 2007, a little more than 60 percent were employed in West Virginia in 2008. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer