1997 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Gollott, Hewes, Woodfield, Harden, Jordan (24th)
Senate Bill 2231
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO PROVIDE TUITION TO ALL NEEDY, QUALIFIED, COLLEGE-BOUND STATE RESIDENTS; TO PROVIDE QUALIFICATIONS FOR SUCH TUITION ASSISTANCE; TO PROVIDE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF SUCH ASSISTANCE; TO ESTABLISH A STUDENT TUITION ASSISTANCE TRUST FUND TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR TUITION ASSISTANCE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The tuition at any state institution of higher learning or community/junior college in the state shall be paid by the state on behalf of any student who enrolls in such a school to pursue an academic undergraduate degree, who applies for the payment thereof, and who meets all of the following qualifications:
(a) Actual residence in Mississippi during the twenty-four (24) months immediately preceding university enrollment. For the purposes of this paragraph, residency shall be demonstrated by proof of the following as required by the administering agency:
(i) If registered to vote, being registered in Mississippi.
(ii) If licensed to drive a motor vehicle, being in possession of a Mississippi driver's license.
(iii) If owning a motor vehicle located within Mississippi, being in possession of Mississippi registration for that vehicle.
(iv) If earning an income, having filed a Mississippi state income tax return and having complied with state income tax laws and regulations.
(b) Having a parent or guardian who is a domiciliary of Mississippi.
(c) Graduation from high school within the two (2) years preceding the application with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 calculated on a 4.0 scale.
(d) Successful completion of seventeen and one-half (17-1/2) units of high school coursework (Grade 9 level or higher) which constitutes a core curriculum and meets standards for admission to the desired college or university. The core curriculum is defined as follows:
(i) English I, II, III and IV (four (4) units).
(ii) Algebra I and II (two (2) units).
(iii) Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus or comparable Advanced Mathematics (one (1) unit).
(iv) Biology (one (1) unit).
(v) Chemistry (one (1) unit).
(vi) Earth Science, Environmental Science, Physical Science, Biology II, Chemistry II or Physics (one (1) unit).
(vii) American History (one (1) unit).
(viii) World History, World Cultures, Western Civilization or World Geography (one (1) unit).
(ix) Civics and/or Economics (one (1) unit).
(x) Fine Arts Survey (one (1) unit; or substitute two (2) units of performance courses in music, dance or theatre; or substitute two (2) units of studio art courses).
(xi) Foreign Language (two (2) units in a single language).
(xii) Computer Science, Computer Literacy or Data Processing (one-half (1/2) unit).
(xiii) Electives from the above (one (1) unit).
(e) Having a composite score on the American College Test of at least twenty (20) on the 1989 version or an equivalent concordant value on an enhanced version of such test.
(f) Having no criminal record, except for misdemeanor traffic violations.
(g) Being in financial need.
(2) The tuition at any public college or university or community/junior college in the state shall be paid by the state on behalf of any student who enrolls in such a school to pursue an academic undergraduate or associate degree, who applies for the payment thereof, and who meets the qualifications enumerated in paragraphs (a), (b), (f) and (g) of subsection (1) but who fails to meet one of the particular requirements established by paragraph (c), (d) or (e) of subsection (1) by an amount of ten percent (10%) or less.
(3) To maintain continued state payment of tuition, once enrolled in college a student shall meet all of the following requirements:
(a) Make steady academic progress toward a degree, earning not less than the minimum number of hours of credit required for full-time standing in each academic period requiring such enrollment;
(b) Maintain continuous enrollment for not less than two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters in each successive academic year, unless granted an exception for cause by the administering agency;
(c) Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 calculated on a 4.0 scale at the end of the first academic year and thereafter maintain such a cumulative grade point average as evaluated at the end of each academic year;
(d) Have no criminal record, except for misdemeanor traffic violations; and
(e) Be found to be in financial need.
(4) The provisions of this act shall be administered by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning in conjunction with the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges. The board may provide by rule for all matters necessary for the implementation of this act.
(5) By rule, the board shall provide for:
(a) A mechanism for informing all students of the availability of the assistance provided pursuant to this act early enough in their schooling that a salutary motivational effect is possible.
(b) Applications, forms, financial audit procedures, eligibility and other program audit procedures and other matters related to efficient operation.
(c) A procedure for waiver through the 1996-1997 academic year of the program eligibility requirement for successful completion of a specified core curriculum upon proper documentation by the applicant that failure to comply with such requirement is due solely to the fact that the required course or courses were not available to the applicant at the school attended.
(6) An applicant shall be found to be in financial need if:
(a) The family has one (1) child under the age of twenty-one (21), and the two-year average annual adjusted gross income of the family is less than Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00); or
(b) The family has a two-year average annual adjusted gross income of less than Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) plus Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for each additional child under the age of twenty-one (21).
The two-year average annual adjusted gross income of the family shall be verified by Internal Revenue Service returns or by certified affidavits in cases of income that cannot be verified by such returns.
As used in this subsection, the term "family" for an unemancipated applicant means the applicant, the applicant's parents, and other children under age twenty-one (21) of the applicant's parents. The term "family" for an emancipated applicant means the applicant, an applicant's spouse, and any children under age twenty-one (21) of the applicant and spouse.
(7) An appropriation of funds may annually be made to the board sufficient to cover, in addition to any other available funds, the costs of tuition required to be paid, both initial and continuing, for the coming academic year. All such payments shall be made directly to the institution to which such tuition is due after notice to the school that the state shall pay the tuition of a student and after notice from the school that the student has actually enrolled.
(8) The board may seek, accept and expend funds from any source, including private business, industry, foundations and other groups as well as any federal or other governmental funding available for this purpose.
(9) No student shall receive a grant pursuant to this act in an amount greater than the tuition charged by the school. The student must apply for a federal grant prior to receiving state funds.
SECTION 2. There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special trust fund to be known as the Student Tuition Assistance Trust Fund. The trust fund shall consist of all monies designated by the Legislature for deposit therein and any gift, donation, bequest, trust, grant, endowment, transfer of money or securities, or any other monies from any source whatsoever, designated for deposit in the trust fund.
The principal of the trust fund shall remain inviolate and shall be invested by the State Treasurer in the same manner as provided by Section 27-105-33, Mississippi Code of 1972, for the investment of excess state funds. Interest and income derived from investment of the principal of the trust fund shall be appropriated by the Legislature to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for expenditure as provided in this act.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.