ELKINS - Davis & Elkins College President Dr. Michael P. Mihalyo Jr. and the D&E Board of Trustees reaffirmed the College's commitment to making private higher education affordable by voting to expand the Highlands Scholarship to every qualifying high school senior in all 55 West Virginia counties. In addition to easing the financial burden for students, the now statewide program aims to serve as an economic engine by opening the gateway for increasing the number of college graduates in West Virginia.
“A college education provides value for a lifetime, but you shouldn’t have to spend a lifetime paying for it,” Davis & Elkins College President Michael P. Mihalyo Jr. says. “Since 2008, our Highlands Scholar Program has provided students from the seven counties closest to campus with an opportunity to receive a private education at an affordable price. Now, we’re extending that same value to students throughout the Mountain State to help them, and West Virginia, thrive in the future.”
Beginning with the fall 2015 semester, any 2015 graduate with at least a 2.5 GPA from a public or private West Virginia high school will be eligible for the scholarship. Students living on campus will receive $14,000 annually and those living off campus will receive $11,000 annually. That’s equivalent to a $56,000 four-year scholarship for residential students or a $44,000 four-year scholarship for commuter students.
Currently, the Highlands Scholar Program serves students in Randolph, Upshur, Barbour, Pocahontas, Tucker, Pendleton and Webster counties. Since its inception, 630 students have received the award, with 208 of the scholars enrolled in the spring 2015 semester.
Davis & Elkins Director of Enrollment Matt Shiflett sees the expansion as welcome news for parents concerned with paying for college.
“As our admission team travels around the state meeting with students and their families, the most common concern we hear is that of how to finance a college education,” Shiflett says. “Because of that, we felt the need to reach out to West Virginia high school students and provide a better scholarship opportunity to help them attend college.”
West Virginia lags behind the nation in the number of residents who possess a college degree. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau for the years 2009-2013, 18.3 percent of West Virginians age 25 or older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That’s down from the national average of 28.8 percent.
For those who do have a college degree, earning potential is significantly higher, the U.S. Department of Education says. The DOE website states that young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned more than twice as much as those without a high school credential (105 percent more) and 57 percent more than young adults with a high school diploma. For example, in 2012 the median of earnings for young adults with a bachelor's degree was $46,900, while the median was $22,900 for those without a high school credential and $30,000 for those with a high school credential.
Advantages increase for students attending a small, private college. This includes faster and higher graduation rates, which in turn means fewer tuition payments and a lower cost of degree. According to the 2008-2009 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, 59 percent of graduates of smaller private colleges finish within four years, compared to 38 percent of graduates of regional public universities.
“D&E has so many opportunities for students to excel, and with the expansion of the Highlands Scholarship Program, we can reach out to our West Virginia students to make a private education a reality for them,” Shiflett says.
Davis & Elkins offers more than 30 majors and pre-professional programs that allow students to study in depth. Among some of the most popular programs are Business and Entrepreneurship, Nursing, Education and Sustainability Studies. The College is also a catalyst in the arts, offering a dance program that explores social and vernacular forms. The city of Elkins, named a "Small Town Gem" by the West Virginia Department of Commerce, is a friendly place to explore, with a vibrant downtown, coffee shops and fairs and festivals. It is a Certified Arts Community, a Preserve America Community, and home to D&E's internationally known Augusta Heritage Center.
Currently, more than 3,200 Davis & Elkins College alumni call West Virginia home.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.