West Virginia Student Loans: Debt Stats, Repayment Programs and Refinancing Loans

 August 7, 2021
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West Virginia students owe an average of $30,545 in federal and private student loan debt, which is 17% less than the U.S. average of $36,689.

With the West Virginia Invests program, students could see their future debt minimized. The initiative pays up to the total cost of tuition and fees for eligible certificate and associate degree programs at public West Virginia schools.

And medical professionals repaying their West Virginia student loans could receive state help. Here’s what you should know about student debt and repaying loans in West Virginia.

West Virginia student loans: Borrowers owe average of $30,545 in federal, private debt — and more facts

West Virginia student debt overview
Average balance $30,545
Total outstanding debt $6.9 billion
Number of borrowers 0.2 million
Average total monthly payment $249
Note: Averages include federal and private student loan debt.

West Virginia students could qualify for aid through the following programs:

  • West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship: This provides eligible high school graduates with up to $4,750 to put toward the cost of tuition and fees at postsecondary institutions in the state. In 2019, $46.5 million in PROMISE scholarships was awarded.
  • West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program: The program provides need-based financial assistance to West Virginia students. It is renewable for a student’s entire course of study, or up to three academic years after the first award. The award amount varies and must be used at postsecondary institutions within West Virginia or Pennsylvania.
  • West Virginia Invests: This grant will cover the cost of tuition and fees for certificate or associate degrees programs at West Virginia public schools. Recipients must commit to remain in West Virginia for at least two years following graduation or complete community service each term if dropping below part-time enrollment.
  • Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program: The program is targeted toward high school seniors or recent high school graduates who want a career in teaching. Each year, 25 recipients will receive an award of $10,000, renewable for up to four years. They must commit to service in a West Virginia public school in math, science, elementary education or special education for five years after completion of their degree.

Loan repayment programs for West Virginia residents

While there are many federal student loan repayment options, there are state options for repaying West Virginia student loans.

Mental Health Loan Repayment Program

For mental health professionals working in an underserved area of West Virginia who have $10,000 or more in student debt, the Mental Health Loan Repayment Program will award student loan repayment assistance in exchange for a service commitment. The award amount is at least $10,000 for one year of service or two years of part-time service. Mental health professionals must be a licensed graduate of an accredited program.

Recruitment and Retention Community Project

The Recruitment and Retention Community Project will help pay the cost of educational loans and expenses for health care professionals working in a shortage or underserved area. The program requires an employer-match. For one year of full-time service, the award is $20,000. The award is renewable for up to four years after the initial year.

State Loan Repayment Program

Health care workers in an area of shortage could receive loan repayment assistance through the State Loan Repayment Program. There is an initial two-year obligation, for which the award amount is $40,000. Further extensions can total $25,000 each year for a maximum of $90,000 total. Eligible medical professions include dentistry, family practice, pediatrics, pharmacy, primary care, gynecology and psychiatry.

Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Loan Assistance Program

The Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Loan Assistance Program is for teachers or counselors in underserved areas of West Virginia. Each specific county has subject areas that are of high need, such as math, science, special education, elementary education and counseling. Eligible teachers or counselors must commit to two years of service for each year of loan assistance. They can receive up to $3,000 annually, for a maximum of $15,000.

West Virginia federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe less than national average — and more comparisons

How to refinance West Virginia student loans

Student loan refinancing is a common approach to debt repayment, one that could be particularly useful to the 7.2% of borrowers in West Virginia who owe $100,000 or more in student loans.

When you refinance your loans at a lower interest rate, you save money in interest payments that you can then dedicate toward repaying the loan’s principal. Using a student loan repayment calculator can help you determine how much time this method will save you when repaying your student loans.

This strategy can be used to repay both federal and private loans, but keep in mind that when you refinance federal loans you lose any protections or benefits for student loan borrowers such as forbearance or deferment. Even though your new, private lender might have similar programs, they’ll be different from what’s available federally. You also won’t be able to qualify for federal repayment plans, such as income-driven repayment.


  • U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
  • Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020
  • mappingstudentdebt.org

Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports .