SB 2 establishes the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017” to strengthen funding and programmatic mechanisms so that every student in Florida, regardless of his or her economic circumstances, is able to access higher education and graduate on time in 4 years with a baccalaureate degree. Specifically, the bill:
- · Modifies the state university and Florida College System institution performance accountability metrics and standards to promote on-time student graduation in 4 years.
- · Increases student financial aid and tuition assistance to:
o Expand the Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars (FAS) award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 per fall and spring semester for textbooks and college-related expenses;
o Expand eligibility for the Benacquisto Scholarship Program (Formerly National Merit Scholarship) to include eligible students graduating from out of state; and
o Revise the state-to-private match requirements for contributions to the First Generation Matching Grant Program from 1:1 to 2:1.
- · Establishes tuition incentives by requiring state university boards of trustees to adopt a resident and non-resident undergraduate student block tuition policy.
- · Strengthens “2+2” articulation by establishing the “2+2” targeted pathway program.
- · Requires school districts to provide notification to students and parents about applying acceleration mechanism credit to a postsecondary degree. Increasing the FAS award is estimated to cost $126.2 million for 45,213 students to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees, and $24.9 million for college-related expenses. Including out-of-state students in the Benacquisto Scholarship Program is estimated to cost $1.1 million for 54 scholars. Doubling the state matching funds for the First Generation in College Matching Grant program is estimated to cost an additional $5.3 million. The bill takes effect July 1, 2017.
Bright Futures : Sen. Thurston asked if it would be possible to lower standards for Bright Futures so that more minority students could participate.
SB 4 expands and enhances policy and funding options for state universities to recruit and retain the very best faculty, enrich professional and graduate school strength and viability, and upgrade aging facilities and research infrastructure. Specifically, the bill:
- · Establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program to fund and support the efforts of state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and research scholars, and specifies that funding for the program will be as provided in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
- · Establishes the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program to fund and support the efforts of state universities to enhance the quality and excellence of professional schools and graduate degree programs in high-impact fields of medicine, law, and business, and specifies that funding for the program will be as provided in the GAA.
- · Authorizes state matching funds for certain projects under the Alec P. Courtelis University Facility Enhancement Challenge Grant Program for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, subject to the GAA.
- · Links education to job opportunities by modifying requirements of the strategic plan, developed by the Board of Governors (BOG), to require state universities to use data-driven gap analyses to identify internship opportunities for students in high-demand fields. The fiscal impact of the bill is indeterminate for the World Class Faculty and Scholar and the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence programs. These programs are contingent upon an appropriation in the GAA. The BOG has identified $4.3 million for projects that have not been completed and which would be eligible for prioritized funding by the Legislature under the Alec P. Courtelis University Facility Enhancement Challenge Grant Program.
The bill takes effect July 1, 2017.