2004 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Representative Fleming
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE MISSISSIPPI FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING SCHOLARSHIPS TO COLLEGE STUDENTS TO PAY FOR THE COST OF TUITION; TO PROVIDE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PROGRAM; TO REPEAL SECTION 37-106-29, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE MISSISSIPPI RESIDENT TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM; TO REPEAL SECTION 37-106-31, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE MISSISSIPPI EMINENT SCHOLARS FUND; TO CREATE A SPECIAL FUND IN THE STATE TREASURY TO BE KNOWN AS THE "MISSISSIPPI FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP FUND"; TO PROVIDE THAT THE FUNDS DESIGNATED BY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING FOR THE MISSISSIPPI TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAMS AND THE MISSISSIPPI EMINENT SCHOLARS PROGRAM SHALL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE MISSISSIPPI FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP FUND; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) Beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, there is established the Mississippi Future Scholarship Program for 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, 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 section.
(2) The college or university shall approve awards to full-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 only to tuition costs and shall not exceed the amount of tuition set for junior and senior students attending state institutions of higher learning in Mississippi or for freshmen and sophomores attending state institutions of higher learning or public community or junior colleges in Mississippi, which will be prorated per term, semester or quarter of the academic year for costs of tuition, calculated according to the formula specified in subsection (8) of this section.
(4) The general requirements for initial eligibility of students for the Mississippi Future Scholarship Program consist of the following:
(a) Acceptance for enrollment at any state institution of higher learning or public community or junior college located in Mississippi as listed in paragraph (d) of this subsection, with any of the following:
(i) A minimum grade point average of 2.5 calculated on a 4.0 scale after seven (7) semesters certified by the high school counselor or other authorized school official on the application and graduation from high school verified by the institution before disbursement of award; or
(ii) Attendance in a home education program during grade levels 9 through 12, and a score of fifteen (15) on the American College Testing Program; or
(iii) Satisfactory completion of the General Educational Development Test (GED) or successful completion of the International Baccalaureate Program and a score of fifteen (15) on the American College Testing Program.
However, any student who enters a vocational or technical program of study, or who has satisfactorily completed the General Education Development Test and attends a community or junior college, shall not be required to have a test score under the American College Testing Program except those students enrolled in courses of academic study. Any student currently enrolled in any qualified institution shall have to only meet the same requirements as students who are applying for a renewal award.
(c) Resident status for purposes of receiving awards under this act shall be determined in the same manner as resident status for tuition purposes as set forth in Sections 37-103-1 through 37-103-29, with the exception of 37-103-17.
(d) Attendance at one (1) 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.
(5) By accepting a Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award, the student is attesting to the accuracy, completeness and correctness of information provided to demonstrate the student's eligibility. Falsification of that information shall result in the denial of any pending award 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 an award 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 Mississippi Future Scholarship Program awards wrongfully obtained.
(6) Eligibility for renewal of a Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award 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) 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; examples of cause may include student participation in a cooperative program, internship program or foreign study program. If a student fails to maintain continuous enrollment, and is not granted an exception for cause by the administering agency, the student is ineligible to receive the Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award during the following semester or trimester or term of the regular academic year.
(c) Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 calculated on a 4.0 scale at the end of each semester or trimester or term.
(7) Each student must complete annually 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 Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award.
(8) (a) The amount of the Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award 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 tuition at his accredited college of choice and the amount of federal aid the student may receive, not to supplant but to supplement the amount of any federal aid awarded to the student.
(b) Payment of the Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award shall be made payable to the recipient and the educational institution and mailed directly to the institution, to be applied only to tuition.
(9) In order for an institution to remain eligible for its students to participate in the Mississippi Future Scholarship 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 Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award.
(b) The institution is required to make refunds to the Mississippi Future Scholarship Program for any funds that have not been disbursed to the recipient, in the case of students who have received an award 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 that instance. The recipient shall be responsible for the refund of any funds that have been disbursed by the institution in that instance.
(c) If a student drops below full-time status but does not terminate all enrollment during the term, semester or quarter of the academic year, no refund will be required for that term. However, that student is ineligible to receive a Mississippi Future Scholarship award during the following term, semester or quarter of the regular academic year.
(d) The board may conduct its own annual audits of any institution participating in the Mississippi Future Scholarship 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 section. In determining a student's initial eligibility, the number of prior semesters enrolled will not be counted against the student.
(10) No student may receive a Mississippi Future Scholarship Program award for more than the equivalent semesters or quarters required to complete one (1) baccalaureate degree or one (1) certificate or associate degree program per institution.
(11) Subject to the availability of funds specifically appropriated therefor, it is the intent of the Legislature to fully fund scholarship awards to eligible students. If funds are insufficient to fully fund scholarship awards to eligible students, scholarship awards shall be prorated among all eligible students. No student shall receive any combination of student financial aid in excess of the cost of tuition as defined in subsection (8)(a) of this section.
SECTION 2. Section 37-106-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant Program, are repealed.
SECTION 3. Section 37-106-31, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Fund, are repealed.
SECTION 4. (1) There is created a special fund in the State Treasury to be known as "The Mississippi Future Scholarship Fund." Monies in the fund shall be expended, upon appropriation of the Legislature, for the purpose of providing scholarship awards to students under Section 1 of this act. Monies received by the Mississippi Postsecondary Education Financial Assistance Board for the purposes of Section 1 of this act shall be deposited into the fund. Unexpended amounts remaining in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund, and any interest earned on amounts in the fund shall be deposited to the credit of the fund.
(2) The funds designated and maintained by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant program and the Mississippi Eminent Scholars program shall be transferred to the Mississippi Future Scholarship Fund.
SECTION 5. Section 1 of this act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004, and Sections 2 through 4 of this act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.