One factor for the decline in applications that Hill cited - academic preparedness - reflects poorly on students and the state of public schools.
West Virginia taxpayers spend more than $2 billion a year in state, local and federal taxes to support public education. Taxpayers expect high school graduates to be ready for college.
There is good news. In the first decade of this century, the number of degrees awarded by public colleges rose 27.9 percent, including a 42.7 percent increase in two-year degrees and a 15.5 percent increase in bachelor's degrees.
Officials need to determine how much of that increase is attributable to the Promise program and how many of those newly degreed people stayed in West Virginia.
As for improving the college-going rate, it stood at 56 percent in 2001, the year before Promise.
Ten years later, the rate was 58 percent.
Lawmakers budgeted $47.5 million for Promise scholarships this year. The effectiveness of the program should determine the level of its funding in more austere times.