Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Substitute Bill No. 5371

    February Session, 2018

 

*_____HB05371HED___031918____*

AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE FREE 2 START SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.

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

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2018) (a) As used in 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) five hundred dollars, whichever is greater;

(2) "Eligible institutional costs" means the tuition and required fees for an individual student at a regional community-technical college that are published by the 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) enrolls as a full-time student for the fall semester of 2018 or any semester thereafter, for the first time at a regional community-technical college and continues to be 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 completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or an institutionally approved student aid application, (F) has an expected family contribution, as computed from the student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid, of five thousand three hundred dollars or less, 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 Board of Regents for Higher Education shall establish a 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 the 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 for the Free 2 Start Scholarship program shall be the sum of all awards made to qualifying students enrolled at the regional community-technical college during each semester. If the total eligible institutional costs for qualifying students exceeds the amount of the annual appropriation for the Free 2 Start Scholarship program in any year, the Board of Regents for Higher Education shall prioritize allocations in accordance with criteria developed by the board. Not later than September first and February first, annually, each regional community-technical college shall report such award data to the Board of Regents for 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 Board of Regents for Higher Education.

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

Sec. 2. (Effective July 1, 2018) The Planning Commission for Higher Education, established pursuant to section 10a-11b of the general statutes, shall design and develop an implementation plan for a scholarship program that provides awards to students to cover the educational costs associated with full-time enrollment at public institutions of higher education during the final two semesters of an associate degree program and during the final four semesters of a bachelor's degree program. In designing and developing the implementation plan for the scholarship program, the commission shall (1) develop eligibility criteria for students following an examination of expected family contributions, as computed from a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid, (2) specify the total amount of an award that a student may receive and which educational costs will be covered by an award, (3) analyze the cost of administering the scholarship program, (4) consider funding sources for creating and sustaining the scholarship program, and (5) establish a timeframe for the commencement of the scholarship program. Not later than October 1, 2019, the commission shall submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to higher education that includes the design and implementation plan for the scholarship program.

Sec. 3. (Effective July 1, 2018) The sum of five million dollars is appropriated to the Board of Regents for Higher Education, from the General Fund, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, for the administration of the Free 2 Start Scholarship program, established pursuant to section 1 of this act.

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

Sec. 3

July 1, 2018

New section

Statement of Legislative Commissioners:

In Section 1, Subsec. (a)(4)(B) was rewritten for clarity.

HED

Joint Favorable Subst.