1998 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Hall
Senate Bill 2536
(As Passed the Senate)
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A PART-TIME STUDENT TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM FOR FIRST-TIME PART-TIME STUDENTS AT PUBLIC AND PRIVATE TWO-YEAR AND FOUR-YEAR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN MISSISSIPPI TO BE ADMINISTERED BY THE MISSISSIPPI POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE BOARD; TO ESTABLISH GRANT AWARDS AND ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE PROGRAM AND PENALTIES FOR FRAUDULENT RECEIPT OF GRANT AWARDS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) There is established the Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant Program for part-time college or university freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors to be administered by the Mississippi Postsecondary Education Financial Assistance Board established under Section 37-106-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, which shall set the dates and deadlines for applying for an award under this section. The board shall establish such rules and regulations as it deems necessary and proper to carry out the purposes and intent of this act.
(2) The college or university shall approve grants to part-time freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior Mississippi residents who meet the general requirements for student eligibility as provided in subsection (4) of this section.
(3) The award shall be applied to tuition, rooms and meals, books, materials and fees not to exceed Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) per semester for students attending state institutions of higher learning in Mississippi, four-year regionally accredited, state-approved, nonprofit colleges and universities in Mississippi, public community or junior colleges in Mississippi, or regionally accredited, state-approved, nonprofit two-year or four-year colleges in Mississippi, with an aggregate limit of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per student.
(4) The general requirements for initial eligibility of students for Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grants consist of the following:
(a) First-time acceptance for part-time enrollment at any state institution of higher learning or public community or junior college located in Mississippi, or any regionally accredited, state-approved, nonprofit four- or two-year college or university located in Mississippi as listed in paragraph (d) of this subsection (4);
(b) Application is for fall or spring semester and not a summer session;
(c) Recipient must be able to demonstrate that courses taken will apply toward a first associate or first baccalaureate degree for purposes of job or workplace advancement;
(d) Must attend one of the following institutions of higher learning: Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State University, University of Mississippi, University of Southern Mississippi, Coahoma Community College, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, East Central Community College, East Mississippi Community College, Hinds Community College, Holmes Community College, Itawamba Community College, Jones County Junior College, Meridian Community College, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northeast Mississippi Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Pearl River Community College, Southwest Mississippi Community College, Belhaven College, Blue Mountain College, Millsaps College, Mississippi College, Rust College, Tougaloo College, William Carey College, Mary Holmes College, Magnolia Bible College and Wood College.
(5) By accepting a Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant, the student is attesting to the accuracy, completeness and correctness of information provided to demonstrate the student's eligibility. Falsification of such information shall result in the denial of any pending grant and revocation of any award currently held to the extent that no further payments shall be made. Any student knowingly making false statements in order to receive a grant shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable, upon conviction thereof, by a fine of up to Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00), a prison sentence of up to one (1) year in the county jail, or both, and shall be required to return all Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grants wrongfully obtained.
(6) Eligibility for renewal of Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grants shall be evaluated at the end of each semester, or term, of each academic year. As a condition for renewal, a student shall:
(a) Make steady academic progress toward a certificate or degree, as outlined in the school Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards and certified by the institution's registrar.
(b) Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 calculated on a 4.0 scale at the end of the first semester, and thereafter maintain such a cumulative grade point average as calculated at the end of each semester.
(7) Each student, each year, must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form or a Statement of Certification as designed by the administering board to determine his/her eligibility for a Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant.
(8) (a) The amount of the Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant awarded to any one (1) student, up to the maximum amount provided in subsection (3) of this section, shall be the difference of the student's cost of attendance at his accredited college of choice and the amount of federal aid such student may receive, not to supplant but to supplement the amount of any federal aid awarded to the student. Cost of attendance is the tuition and fees of the applicable institution plus an allowance for room and meals and books and materials.
(b) Payment of the Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant shall be made payable to the recipient and the educational institution and mailed directly to the institution, to be applied first to tuition.
(9) In order for an institution to remain eligible for its students to participate in the Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant Program, the institution shall comply with the following requirements:
(a) A complete and accurate roster of the eligibility status of each awarded student shall be made to the board for each term, semester or quarter of the academic year the student receives a Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant.
(b) The institution is required to make refunds to the Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant Fund for any funds which have not been disbursed to the recipient, in the case of students who have received a grant but who terminate enrollment during the academic term, semester or quarter of the academic year if an institution's refund policies permit a student to receive a refund in such instance. The recipient shall be responsible for the refund of any funds which have been disbursed by the institution in such instance.
(c) The board may conduct its own annual audits of any institution participating in the Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant Program. The board may suspend or revoke an institution's eligibility to receive future monies under the program if it finds that the institution has not complied with the provisions of this act.
(10) No student may receive a Part-time Student Tuition Assistance Grant for more than the equivalent semesters or quarters required to complete one (1) degree or certificate program per institution.
(11) Subject to the availability of funds specifically
appropriated therefor, it is the intent of the Legislature to
fully fund grant awards to eligible students as follows: Program funding level shall be capped at one thousand (1,000) students in Fiscal Year 1999 with an additional one thousand (1,000) students added each fiscal year until four thousand (4,000) students are enrolled in the program. If funds are insufficient to fully fund grant awards to eligible students, grant awards shall be prorated among all eligible students. No student shall receive any combination of student financial aid in excess of the cost of attendance as defined in subsection (8)(a).
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.