2007 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Representative Espy, Brown, Buck, Straughter
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE WAIVER OF TUITION AND REQUIRED FEES AT THE STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING AND COMMUNITY AND JUNIOR COLLEGES FOR ORPHANS IN MISSISSIPPI; TO REQUIRE ELIGIBLE PERSONS TO SUBMIT DOCUMENTATION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES VERIFYING THE PERSON'S STATUS AS AN ORPHAN; TO PROVIDE THAT TUITION AND FEES MAY BE WAIVED FOR BOTH FULL-TIME AND PART-TIME STUDENTS; TO REQUIRE EACH PERSON FOR WHOM TUITION AND FEES ARE WAIVED TO RENDER SERVICE AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI OR A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THE STATE IN EXCHANGE FOR THE WAIVER OF TUITION AND FEES; TO REQUIRE THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING, ACTING JOINTLY WITH THE STATE BOARD FOR COMMUNITY AND JUNIOR COLLEGES, TO PROMULGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS TO BE FOLLOWED BY THE COLLEGES AND STATE INSTITUTIONS IN CARRYING OUT THE PURPOSES OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) Beginning with the 2007-2008 academic year, any child who is an orphan in the State of Mississippi who is eligible for admission and enrollment at any public community or junior college or state institution of higher learning within this state must be admitted to the college or state institution without the payment of any tuition or mandatory fees, including room and meals, books, necessary school supplies and materials, in exchange for two (2) years' public service in the employ of the State of Mississippi or any political subdivision of the state. For the purposes of this section, the term "orphan" means a child who does not have a parent, guardian or custodian, including a foster parent; however, custody by the Department of Human Services does not render a child ineligible for a scholarship under this section.
(2) Any person considered to be an orphan under the age of twenty-one (21) years who is enrolled in or accepted for enrollment at a state institution of higher learning or a public community or junior college in Mississippi is eligible for a waiver of tuition and fees under this section as long as the person meets the academic standards and complies with the rules and regulations of the college or state institution relating to enrollment and continued attendance as a student. An orphan must submit to the applicable college or state institution written documentation from the Department of Human Services verifying the child's status as an orphan and any other information that may be required under rules or regulations established under subsection (6) of this section.
(3) Any public community or junior college or state institution of higher learning that has an orphan applying for admission who meets the enrollment requirements of the college or state institution must waive the total cost of tuition, room and meals, books, school supplies, materials and mandatory fees on behalf of the orphan at the applicable college or institution. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible to have their tuition and fees waived under this section. The tuition and fees of students enrolling on a full-time basis may be waived a maximum of four (4) years or, in those instances when a degree program requires five (5) years for completion, five (5) years. For a student attending school on a part-time basis, the tuition and fees may not be waived for any length of time exceeding that required to complete the associate or baccalaureate degree or certificate program toward which the student is working. The tuition and fees of any person who has a baccalaureate degree may not be waived, and any person who has an associate degree is eligible for a waiver of tuition and fees only in furtherance of a baccalaureate degree.
(4) (a) For the purpose of aiding the community and junior colleges and state institutions of higher learning in implementing this section, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, acting jointly with the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, shall define with specificity the term "orphan," which definition must be consistent with the general definition of the term ascribed in subsection (1) of this section. The definition must be included in the rules and regulations established under subsection (6) of this section.
(b) The Department of Human Services shall establish objective criteria to be considered by the community and junior colleges and state institutions of higher learning when determining whether a child may be deemed an orphan for purposes of this section.
(5) As a condition for the continued waiver of tuition and fees for an orphan under this section, 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 to be followed by the community and junior colleges and state institutions of higher learning in carrying out the purposes and intent of this section. (7) Except in those cases where employment positions may not be available, within six (6) months of earning a certificate or associate or baccalaureate degree, a recipient of a waiver or waivers of tuition and fees under this section shall begin to render service as an employee of the State of Mississippi or any political subdivision of the state. The person shall render no less than two (2) years' service as an employee of the state or local governmental entity.
(8) Any person failing to complete his public service obligation, as required under subsection (7) of this section, is liable to the community or junior college or state institution of higher learning from which the person was awarded a certificate or degree for the sum of tuition and fees waived on behalf of that person, less the corresponding amount of any amounts waived for which service has been rendered, plus interest accruing at the current Stafford Loan rate at the time the person discontinues his service, except in the case of a deferral of debt for cause by the college or state institution when there is no employment position available upon the recipient's completion of the certificate program or associate or baccalaureate degree. After the period of any deferral, the person shall begin his or her employment in public service as required under subsection (7) or shall become liable to the college or state institution under this subsection. If a claim for payment under this subsection is placed in the hands of an attorney for collection, the obligor is liable for an additional amount equal to a reasonable attorney's fee.
(9) It is the intent of the Legislature that the tuition and fees of all orphans eligible for admission and enrollment to a community or junior college or state institution of higher learning in this state be waived. If funds at a particular community or junior college or state institution of higher learning are insufficient to provide for the waiver of tuition and fees for all eligible applicants, the college or state institution shall waive the tuition and fees for first-time students on a first-come, first-served basis; however, priority consideration must be given to persons for whom the tuition and fees have been waived previously under this section if those persons 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, 2007.