2005 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Representative Fleming
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR A TUITION WAIVER PROGRAM FOR PERSONS HAVING A DEBILITATING DISEASE; TO REQUIRE WAIVER APPLICATIONS TO INCLUDE MEDICAL DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING THE APPLICANT'S DEBILITY; TO PROVIDE THAT WAIVERS MAY BE AWARDED TO BOTH FULL-TIME AND PART-TIME STUDENTS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING SHALL BE THE ADMINISTERING AGENCY FOR THE PROGRAM; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) There is created a tuition waiver program for persons having a debilitating disease. The purpose of the program is to help eligible residents of Mississippi to obtain a postsecondary certificate or degree at a state institution of higher learning or a public community or junior college in Mississippi when such persons, because of their debility, otherwise might not be able to further their education.
(2) Any legal resident of the state who has a debilitating disease and who is enrolled in or accepted for enrollment at a state institution of higher learning or a public community or junior college in Mississippi may apply for a tuition waiver under this program. An application must be accompanied by written medical documentation from a licensed physician describing the nature of the applicant's debilitating disease, the estimated extent of the applicant's debility, a prognosis for recovery and any other information that may be required pursuant to rules or regulations established under subsection (6) of this section.
(3) The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall establish the maximum annual tuition waiver that may be awarded under the program, which may not exceed the cost of tuition at the institution or college at which the student is enrolled. Both full-time and part-time students may apply for tuition waivers. Students enrolling on a full-time basis may receive a maximum of four (4) annual awards or, in those instances when a degree program requires five (5) years for completion, five (5) annual awards. The number of awards which may be made to a student attending school on a part-time basis may not exceed the length of time required to complete the associate or baccalaureate degree or certificate program toward which the student is working. A person who has a baccalaureate degree is not eligible for a tuition waiver, and any person who has an associate degree may receive awards only in furtherance of a baccalaureate degree.
(4) For the purpose of establishing the eligibility of applicants for a tuition waiver, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning jointly with the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges shall define the term "debilitating disease" and shall establish objective criteria for determining whether an applicant's physical debility qualifies the applicant for a waiver. The definition and criteria shall be included in the rules and regulations established under subsection (6) of this section.
(5) As a condition for renewal of a tuition waiver, a student must make steady academic progress toward a certificate or associate or baccalaureate degree, as certified by the institution's registrar, and must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00 calculated on a 4.00 scale at the end of each term.
(6) The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges jointly shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purposes and intent of this section. The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall be the administering agency of the tuition waiver program.
(7) It is the intent of the Legislature to provide sufficient funds for tuition waivers for all eligible students under this program. If funds are insufficient to provide tuition waivers for all eligible applicants, the board shall award the waivers to first-time students on a first-come, first-served basis; however, priority consideration must be given to persons previously receiving waivers under the program who are making steady academic progress toward completion of a certificate program or associate or baccalaureate degree.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.