Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 5371

February Session, 2018

 

LCO No. 1945

 

*01945_______HED*

Referred to Committee on HIGHER EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT ADVANCEMENT

 

Introduced by:

 

(HED)

 

AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE FREE 2 START SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM AND THE FREE 2 FINISH SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2018) (a) For the purposes of this section:

(1) "Award" means (A) the unpaid portion, if any, of a qualifying student's eligible institutional costs after subtracting his or her financial aid, or (B) one thousand dollars, whichever is greater;

(2) "Eligible institutional costs" means the tuition and required fees for an individual student that are published by each regional community-technical college;

(3) "Financial aid" means the sum of all scholarships, grants and federal, state and institutional aid received by a qualifying student. "Financial aid" does not include any federal, state or private student loans received by a qualifying student;

(4) "Qualifying student" means any person who (A) graduated from a public or nonpublic high school in the state not more than two years prior to enrolling at a regional community-technical college, (B) is enrolled as a full-time student at a regional community-technical college, (C) is classified as an in-state student pursuant to section 10a-29 of the general statutes, (D) is making satisfactory academic progress while enrolled at a regional community-technical college, (E) has an annual family income that is below three hundred per cent of the federal poverty level, (F) has completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or an institutionally approved student aid application, and (G) has accepted all available financial aid; and

(5) "Full-time student" means a student who is enrolled at a regional community-technical college and who is carrying (A) twelve or more semester credit hours in a semester, or (B) thirty or more semester credit hours in an academic year.

(b) The state, acting through the Office of Higher Education, shall establish the Free 2 Start Scholarship program to annually make awards to qualifying students for eligible institutional costs. An award shall be available to a qualifying student for the first two academic years at a regional community-technical college, provided the qualifying student meets and continues to meet the requirements of this section.

(c) Each regional community-technical college shall conduct a financial and academic audit to determine the number of qualifying students enrolled at such regional community-technical college during each semester and the amount of the award to be made to each qualifying student. A regional community-technical college shall not use an award to supplant any state or institutional aid otherwise available to a qualifying student. The amount of the annual appropriation to be allocated to each regional community-technical college shall be the sum of all awards made to qualifying students enrolled at the regional community-technical college during each semester. Not later than September first and February first, annually, each regional community-technical college shall report such award data to the Office of Higher Education. Each regional community-technical college shall expend all of the moneys received under the Free 2 Start Scholarship program as direct financial assistance only for eligible institutional costs.

(d) Any qualifying student receiving an award under this section shall participate in a volunteer-based mentorship and counseling program, as prescribed by the Office of Higher Education.

(e) Not later than January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, the Office of Higher Education shall submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, on the Free 2 Start Scholarship program to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to higher education and employment advancement and appropriations.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2018) (a) For the purposes of this section:

(1) "Award" means (A) the unpaid portion, if any, of a qualifying student's eligible institutional costs after subtracting his or her financial aid, or (B) one thousand dollars, whichever is greater;

(2) "Eligible institutional costs" means the tuition and required fees for an individual student that are published by each public institution of higher education;

(3) "Financial aid" means the sum of all scholarships, grants and federal, state and institutional aid received by a qualifying student. "Financial aid" does not include any federal, state or private student loans received by a qualifying student;

(4) "Qualifying student" means any person who (A) is a full-time undergraduate student enrolled at a public institution of higher education, (B) is classified as an in-state student pursuant to section 10a-29 of the general statutes, (C) is making satisfactory academic progress, as prescribed by the public institution of higher education, (D) has an annual family income that is below three hundred per cent of the federal poverty level, (E) has completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or an institutionally approved student aid application, and (F) has accepted all available financial aid;

(5) "Full-time undergraduate student" means a student who is enrolled at a public institution of higher education in a course of study leading to such student's first associate or bachelor's degree and who is carrying (A) twelve or more semester credit hours in a semester, or (B) thirty or more semester credit hours in an academic year; and

(6) "Public institution of higher education" means the constituent units of the state system of higher education identified in subdivisions (1) and (2) of section 10a-1 of the general statutes.

(b) The state, acting through the Office of Higher Education, shall establish the Free 2 Finish Scholarship program to annually make awards to qualifying students for eligible institutional costs. An award shall be available to a qualifying student during the final two semesters of the qualifying student's associate's degree or during the final four semesters of a qualifying student's bachelor's degree program, provided the qualifying student meets and continues to meet the requirements of this section.

(c) Each public institution of higher education shall determine the number of qualifying students enrolled at such institution during each semester. The public institution of higher education shall then conduct a financial and academic audit for each qualifying student to determine (1) that such qualifying student has, in the case of an associate's degree program, two semesters or less, or, in the case of a bachelor's degree program, four semesters or less remaining to complete his or her degree, and (2) the amount of the award to be made to such qualifying student. A public institution of higher education shall not use an award to supplant any state or institutional aid otherwise available to a qualifying student. The amount of the annual appropriation to be allocated to each public institution of higher education shall be the sum of all awards made to qualifying students enrolled at the public institution of higher education during each semester. Not later than September first and February first, annually, each public institution of higher education shall report such award data to the Office of Higher Education. Each public institution of higher education shall expend all of the moneys received under the Free 2 Finish Scholarship program as direct financial assistance only for eligible institutional costs.

(d) Any qualifying student receiving an award under this section shall participate in a volunteer-based mentorship and counseling program, as prescribed by the Office of Higher Education.

(e) Not later than January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, the Office of Higher Education shall submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, on the Free 2 Finish Scholarship program to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to higher education and employment advancement and appropriations.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2018

New section

Sec. 2

July 1, 2018

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To provide scholarships to students of low and moderate income families that cover the unpaid portion of such students' tuition.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]