1997 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Representative Blackmon
House Bill 919
AN ACT TO CREATE A TEACHER INCENTIVE LOAN PROGRAM TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN QUALIFIED TEACHERS FOR THOSE GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS OF THE STATE WITH CRITICAL SHORTAGES OF TEACHERS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING SHALL ADOPT STANDARDS FOR QUALIFYING FOR LOAN SCHOLARSHIPS UNDER THE PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING SHALL ADMINISTER THE FUNDS FOR THE PROGRAM AND SHALL DISTRIBUTE THE SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE AMOUNT OF THE SCHOLARSHIP LOANS SHALL BE ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS PER STUDENT PER ACADEMIC YEAR; TO PROVIDE THAT SCHOLARSHIP LOANS AWARDED UNDER THE PROGRAM SHALL CONVERT TO SCHOLARSHIP GRANTS IF A RECIPIENT CHOOSES TO TEACH IN A CRITICAL TEACHER SHORTAGE AREA AFTER GRADUATING FROM AN INSTITUTION; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING SHALL MAKE AN ANNUAL REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) There is created a teacher incentive loan program. The purpose of the program shall be to attract and retain qualified teachers for those geographical areas of the state in which there exists a critical shortage of teachers and to enable eligible persons to become certificated teachers by providing scholarship loans that may be converted to scholarship grants if a loan recipient chooses to teach in an area of the state having a critical teacher shortage.
(2) Any person who has expressed in writing a present intention to teach in a critical teacher shortage geographic area of the state shall be eligible to apply for a scholarship loan under the teacher incentive loan program. A recipient of a scholarship loan provided under this act may use the scholarship loan funds to attend any public or private two (2) or four (4) year institution of higher learning in the state.
(3) The State Department of Education and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall adopt standards for qualifying as recipients of the scholarship loans under the program, including minimum grade point average and scholastic aptitude scores and also such other rules and regulations they deem necessary and proper to carry out the purposes of this act. The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall administer the program and shall distribute the scholarship award funds to the various Mississippi schools chosen to be attended by the scholarship recipients. The funds for this scholarship loan program shall be administered by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. Necessary allowances for scholarships granted shall be included in the annual budget of the board. The cost of this program shall be paid from such funds as the Legislature may appropriate.
(4) The amount of the scholarship loans shall be One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per student per academic year. The scholarship loans shall be paid to the two (2) or four (4) year institution attended by the recipient.
(5) Scholarship loans awarded under this act shall convert to scholarship grants when a recipient actually renders services as a teacher in a critical teacher shortage area in the state. For every two (2) semesters of teaching service performed by a recipient he or she shall be credited with one (1) full year of scholarship grants. Any person who chooses not to teach in a critical teacher shortage area in the state shall be liable for the amount of the corresponding scholarship loan received, with interest accruing at the current Stafford Loan rate.
(6) The Board of Institutions of Higher Learning shall make an annual report to the Legislature. Each report shall contain a complete enumeration of the board's activities, scholarships granted, names of persons to whom granted and the institutions attended by those receiving scholarships. The report also shall contain the name of each person who has received a baccalaureate degree and become a certificated teacher as a result of a scholarship under this section and the teaching location of that person. The board shall distinguish upon its records and any published reports between those recipients who have breached their teaching obligations but with the board's permission, have paid their financial obligations in full, and those recipients who have breached their teaching obligations and remain financially indebted to the state.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.