1998 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Representative Cameron
House Bill 1581
AN ACT TO CREATE A SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM OF FREE TUITION AT STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING WHICH WILL PROVIDE GRANTS OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO QUALIFIED RESIDENT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES TO BE APPLIED TOWARDS THE TUITION AND OTHER COSTS OF SECONDARY EDUCATION; TO PROVIDE THE LEGISLATIVE PURPOSE OF THE PROGRAM; TO DESIGNATE THE PROGRAM AS THE "HELPING OUTSTANDING PUPILS EDUCATIONALLY" OR "H.O.P.E." SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE H.O.P.E. SCHOLARSHIP; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING TO ADMINISTER THE H.O.P.E. SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE DEFINITIONS OF CERTAIN TERMS IN THE H.O.P.E. SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE FOR THE APPLICATION AND PAYMENT OF THE SCHOLARSHIP GRANTS; TO PROVIDE FOR A PRO RATA REDUCTION OF GRANTS WHEN STATE FUNDS ARE INSUFFICIENT; TO PROVIDE A PENALTY FOR FURNISHING OR ACCEPTING A FALSE STATEMENT AS TO ELIGIBILITY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The Legislature finds that a substantial number of qualified Mississippi students are not financially able to meet the costs of obtaining a postsecondary education due to a lack of family resources and that it would not be sound public policy to expect such students to borrow the total amount of funds needed to meet such costs and to incur thereby such substantial indebtedness; and that the United States provides matching funds to the state which provides grant assistance to such students on the basis of financial need. The purpose of the Legislature, as provided in this section, is to enable the authority to participate in the federal program and to provide grant assistance to students who qualify for such assistance on the basis of individual financial need.
SECTION 2. (1) The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning is authorized to establish and administer a program to provide a resident high school graduate incentive grant to students enrolled at the undergraduate level who demonstrate a substantial degree of need for such financial assistance as provided for in the federal Higher Education Act of 1965, Public Law 89-329, as amended, relative to state student incentive grant programs, including rules and regulations prescribed by the board. The board is authorized to use such federal funds as may be appropriated for use by the authority for this purpose and to prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary for administration of the program pursuant to the federal law.
(2) Persons who were residents of this state for a period of at least twelve (12) months immediately preceding their date of registration in a state institution of higher learning shall be eligible to apply for a H.O.P.E. scholarship. Until the amount of funds available to the board for purposes of this scholarship program is sufficient to provide assistance to qualifying students at all undergraduate levels, such assistance shall be limited to full-time students, the maximum student scholarship grant under this act that may be awarded to any student shall be approved by the board, subject to the appropriations of the Legislature, and such grant assistance shall not be provided for study during the summer school term. No student shall be eligible to receive a state student H.O.P.E. scholarship for a period of more than five (5) academic years.
SECTION 3. As used in this act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:
(a) "Academic year" means a period of time, typically nine (9) months, in which a full-time student is expected to complete the equivalent of at least two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters academic work.
(b) "Approved school" means a state institution of higher learning.
(c) "Eligible student" means a person who:
(i) Is enrolled in or accepted for enrollment as a full-time undergraduate level student in an approved school or as a graduate level student if funds are specifically appropriated in appropriations of the Legislature for payment of grants to graduate level students;
(ii) Is or will be a citizen of Mississippi for a period of at least twelve (12) months immediately prior to each date of registration in the approved school;
(iii) Is not knowingly promoting or engaging in any activity which is determined by the approved school's governing body to be detrimental to the school; and
(d) "Full-time student" means an under graduate student who enrolls for a minimum of twelve (12) academic hours, or ten (10) academic hours in the case of a graduate student.
SECTION 4. Each eligible student is entitled to a tuition equalization grant each academic year, as specified in legislative appropriations. No grant shall be made to a student for study during the period of any summer school quarter or semester unless specifically authorized in legislative appropriation. No grants shall be made to graduate students unless specifically authorized in legislative appropriations. It is the intent of the Legislature and the purpose of this act to provide tuition equalization grants to all Mississippi students attending approved schools at all levels and throughout the entire calendar year whenever sufficient funds are available to the state. No grant shall be made to any student not enrolled as a full-time student.
SECTION 5. Each eligible student wishing to receive payment of the grant provided for in this section shall submit to the institution of higher learning of his or her choice an application for the grant payment at the time and in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning. The board is authorized to define such terms and prescribe such rules, regulations, and procedures as may be reasonable and necessary to carry out the purposes of this act. The board shall not approve payment of any grant until it has received from an appropriate officer of the approved school a certification that the student applying for the grant is an eligible student. Upon timely receipt of such certification, in proper form, the board is authorized to pay the grant to the approved school on behalf of and to the credit of the student. In the event a student on whose behalf a grant is paid shall not enroll as a full-time student for the school term for which the grant is paid, the school shall make a refund to the board in accordance with regulations of the board.
SECTION 6. Any person who knowingly makes or furnishes any false statement or misrepresentation or who accepts such statement or misrepresentation knowing it to be false, for the purpose of enabling an ineligible student to obtain wrongfully a grant under this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined no less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00).
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.