Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Van O. Dempsey.


With only 14% of West Virginia's population over 25 years old possessing a bachelor's degree, the lack of a skilled workforce often thwarted state legislators' attempts to attract new industry to the state's struggling economy. To address workforce qualification concerns, state educational stakeholders implemented a merit-based scholarship program with average requirements in 2002. The West Virginia PROMISE (Providing Real Opportunities for Maximizing In-state Student Excellence) Scholarship Program goals include encouraging high school students to work harder, and to entice more graduates to attempt post-secondary work at in-state institutions.;This qualitative study was designed to discover the perceptions of five high school seniors and their families who qualified for the PROMISE Scholarship. Interviews were conducted to gather data about family perceptions of college, educational and economic opportunity, and the PROMISE Scholarship in their college decision-making processes. Using an emergent design, additional data was collected from school personnel about programs mentioned as influential to family decision-making processes. Collected data was analyzed using a constant-comparative method.;Study findings indicated that students are working harder to earn the PROMISE Scholarship. The findings also reveal factors influencing family decisions to attempt post-secondary work such as perceptions of their community, college, the benefits of attaining a college degree, and the financial importance of the availability of the PROMISE Scholarship. There were also indications that school programs were influential factors.;Implications of study findings for West Virginia educational stakeholders indicate concern over the continued funding of the program by study participants. There was also evidence of a lack of understanding of program rationale. It was also evident that more research needs to be conducted as the program continues to discover the eventual career paths and locations of PROMISE graduates. Additional research should also be conducted on students and families choosing not to take advantage of the scholarship program to attempt post-secondary work.