The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 10, 2012

State education officials to offer advising services to MSU students in Beckley, Martinsburg


BECKLEY — In response to Mountain State University's loss of accreditation by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) encourages all current and prospective Mountain State University students to examine educational opportunities available in their respective areas.

In order to assist students, the Commission will coordinate college advising fairs in the Beckley and Martinsburg areas for students who would like to explore academic program offerings. The Beckley event will be held this Thursday and Friday (July 12-13) from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. at the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center located at 300 University Drive in Beaver. The Martinsburg event will be held next Monday and Tuesday (July 16-17) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College located at 400 West Stephen Street in Martinsburg.

Detailed event information will be posted on the state’s free college-planning website, the College Foundation of West Virginia (www.cfwv.com) and advertised in local newspapers as soon as possible. Students who are not able to attend these local events or are interested in immediately exploring opportunities may visit www.cfwv.com or call the Commission's toll-free number at 1-877-987-7664 to obtain additional information.

Mountain State University students receiving state-level financial aid, such as the PROMISE Scholarship and/or the West Virginia Higher Education Grant, are encouraged to contact the Commission's Division of Financial Aid by calling 1-877-987-7664 or e-mailing FinancialAid@hepc.wvnet.edu for information regarding continued eligibility. 

Upon the release of the HLC’s Show-Cause Order through the media last Summer, the Commission has been closely monitoring the situation at Mountain State University. In early 2012, Commission staff visited the institution to review financial aid files for students receiving state-level financial aid. As a result of the review, Commission staff have been working with Mountain State University staff to ensure the proper awarding of state-level funds to eligible, enrolled students.

It should be noted that, outside of the oversight of state-funded financial aid programs, the Commission did not have the legal authority to intervene or take any action.  However, at the request of the Commission, Senate Bill 375, which was passed by the Legislature in 2011, will better position the Commission in the future to ensure consumer protection of all West Virginia students.

Although the loss of accreditation at Mountain State University will have an economic impact on the local community, the state must always remain sharply focused on providing rigorous, high-quality academic programming to all students.

“I understand that Mountain State University is considering whether to appeal the decision from the Higher Learning Commission and I appreciate their diligence during this process. My top priority is the students. I am working with the Higher Education Policy Commission and all the colleges and universities across the state to help the affected students, and give them guidance about their options and information concerning any financial assistance awarded to them at Mountain State University,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

“I know Chancellor Hill has already reached out to the other college Presidents for assistance, and we will work immediately to make this transition as smooth as possible for the students.”

“The Legislature stands with the Policy Commission and the Governor in assisting students in every way possible to continue their education as well as to protect and maintain our student support programs including financial aid,” said Sen. Robert Plymale, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and co-chair of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability.