Understanding the Hope Scholarship Rules Making Process

The Legislature has approved the Hope Scholarship Rules, so what?

Since the West Virginia Supreme Court lifted the injunction in October, the Hope Scholarship program has been moving ahead with implementation. One of the most crucial elements of implementation has been the establishment of the program’s rules through the rulemaking process outlined in West Virginia Code §29A. The Hope Scholarship rules outline the operations and functions of the program while reinforcing the legislation’s parameters and requirements.

As Hope moves forward, understanding how the Hope Board makes rules will help equip parents to navigate this revolutionary program.


What are the Hope Scholarship Rules?

The Hope Scholarship rules are established by the Board and outlined in Section West Virginia Code §18-31-9(g). These rules are intended to reinforce the legislation and provide the practical application of the program by outlining how the applications are processed, the administration of accounts, and other necessary pieces of information for participating parents and providers.


The Rulemaking Process

The Hope Scholarship Board first discussed the Hope Scholarship rules during their meeting on February 1st, 2022. Once the Board drafted and approved the rules, they went to public comment. They incorporated some comments into the rules during a meeting of the Subcommittee on Legislative Rules on April 8th, 2022. The full Board adopted the report on April 18th, 2022. Following this meeting, the Board filed the rules as emergency rules with the Secretary of State’s Office pending legislative approval.

Following the reversal of the injunction, the Hope Scholarship Board worked quickly to ensure the program was operational. During their October 12th, 2022 meeting, Treasurer Riley Moore introduced two emergency amendments. One would protect all previously approved or eligible applicants who had applied before the injunction. The second amendment would allow reimbursement to families for expenses incurred during the period of the injunction. Both amendments passed the board and were filed as emergency rules with the Secretary of State’s Office.

During the period of relaunch, the Hope Board made some additional adjustments and clarifications to the rules. These changes included adding microschool tuition and foreign language programs to the list of qualified expenses. They also clarified the eligibility period for reimbursement.

The final step in the Hope Scholarship rules making process took place during the 2023 Regular Session of the legislature. On Wednesday January 25, 2023 the Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee approved the Hope Scholarship program rules as passed by the Board, including the two emergency amendments.


No More Emergency

Now that the Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee has passed the Hope Scholarship Rules, they are no longer governing the program under emergency status. They are fully functional legislative rules which will govern the program until August 1, 2028 when the Board will propose new rules.


Andrew Bambrick is the Education Outreach Coordinator for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.

*If you have questions about the Hope Scholarship and participating, you can reach out by email to Andrew at [email protected]