CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Students at University of Charleston will soon have the opportunity to work in a field pertaining to their degree program while getting through school debt free.

In collaboration with WorkForce WV and other business partners, the university is launching UC Works, a new scholarship and work program designed to encourage more high school students to go to college who have not considered going before due to its cost.

UC President Dr. Marty Roth said they will match students up with a local employer for part-time paid work while they’re still enrolled at the school.

Marty Roth

“The objective is for the students to not have to incur any out-of-pocket costs for tuition,” said Roth.

Students must be residents of West Virginia and first-time, first-year students to enroll in the program. They must also be an in-seat student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, or School of Health Sciences.

In addition, they must be eligible for a federal Pell Grant, a West Virginia Higher Education Grant, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIQA) funds.

Roth said the jobs offered to students as part of the program will primarily be with local companies and possibly governmental organizations.

He said students will be able to work in an environment where they’re not only applying what they are learning in the classroom, but also forging other paths that will one day lead to jobs within those organizations. For example, Roth said a student studying business may be employed part-time at Toyota and work toward a future at the company while attending UC.

“If they do a good job and Toyota likes them, and they enjoy that type of working environment and responsibilities that Toyota offers them, then hopeful there will be an opportunity for them to be employed full-time at Toyota once they graduate,” he said.

He said the program is starting specifically for students who plan to commute to UC so they can utilize federal and state financial aid, as well as institutional aid that the university provides that will help them avoid tuition, costs for books, computers, among other necessary resources.

Roth said the program was created out of a need to attract more future, qualified and entry-level employees to companies in the Kanawha Valley and throughout the state as more and more companies migrate in to the state and continue to expand the workforce.

“We know there is really a demand from those employers to provide paid part-time work, paid internships and full-time employment after graduation for skilled workers,” he said.

Roth said they are currently working with Kanawha County Schools and other school districts in a relatively close distance from the university to share information about UC Works. He said so far they have already garnered much interest from many students as they actively recruit for the program that kicks off in the Fall semester 2024.

Students would complete a standard application for the university and indicate whether they are interested in UC Works, and then he said the university will work with the student to get them enrolled in the program.