COLLEGE ENTRY RATES FOR 55 COUNTIES 2009-2013|
By Dianne Weaver
West Virginia's college-going rate has declined over the past five years, according to the WV Report Card, with the state also having among the lowest college graduation rates in the nation.
The report says 55.9 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college in the fall of 2013, compared to 61.5 percent in 2009, according to the WV Higher Education Commission.
The college going rate from Calhoun High School graduates in 2012 and 2013 averaged 35%.
The average college entry rate for Calhoun High School for the last 10 years was 43% entering college.
In 2013 and 2012, the commission says the college entry rate at Calhoun High School was the lowest of all regional counties, Roane, Clay, Gilmer, Braxton, Wirt and Ritchie.
Nationwide, 65.9 percent of the roughly 3 million U.S. high school graduates in 2013 had enrolled in colleges by October of that year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Calhoun High School, according to the WV Higher Education Commission, reached a high with college entry in 2001 with 70% continuing education, a single year high since 1996.
Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Tim Woodward, said he was unclear on what caused the one-year spike, except for a possible push by the state superintendent to get everyone in college.
In 2013, Monongalia County had the highest college-going rate at 68.1 percent. McDowell County had the lowest rate at 34.7 percent.
West Virginia has one of the lowest college graduation rates in the nation, but during the last five-year period, the WV-HEPC says the number of degrees and certificates awarded increased from 15,185 to 18,012.
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Statistics are not readily available who completed college programs.
Tuition expenses have increased over 500% percent nationwide since 1985.
The ballooning charges have generated a swelling demand for educational loans while threatening to make college unaffordable.
The "skyrocketing" increases exacerbate income inequality by depriving those of less means of the schooling they need to advance.
The student success rate at West Virginia's community colleges has increased.
The success rate measures the percentage of first-time freshmen, full-time and part-time, at state community colleges who, after six years, have achieved either a certificate or associates degree or have transferred to a four-year institution.
But West Virginia high school graduates reportedly missed out on $15 million in free grants by not completing an application for federal aid last year, an analysis by higher education researchers.
While state higher education officials say more than 50 percent of seniors fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the study found that more than 7,000 of the state's high school graduates didn't complete one last year.
Even more, nearly 4,000 of those students would have been eligible to receive Pell Grants, a free award given by the federal government to help undergraduates with financial need go to college. The average amount given is about $3,800.
"Obviously, we're missing some students," said Brian Weingart, financial aid director for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
PERCENTAGE CALHOUN HIGH GRADS ENTERING COLLEGE 1990-2013
2013 - 36%
2012 - 34%
2011 - 47%
2010 - 58%
2009 - 37%
2008 - 46%
2007 - 36%
2006 - 40%
2005 - 52%
2004 - 43%
2003 - 54%
2002 - 45%
2001 - 70%
2000 - 40%
1999 - 37%
1998 - 51%
1997 - 51%
1996 - 49%
1995 - 33%
1994 - 33%
1993 - 32%
1992 - 42%
1991 - 28%
1990 - 31%