A House panel advanced legislation Monday that would waive university fees for top-performing out-of-state students whose grandparents are Florida residents.
The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee blessed the proposal (HB 1273) with a 15-0 vote. Rep. Patt Maney, a Shalimar Republican, is the bill sponsor.
Maney’s bill looks to attract talented students by waiving out-of-state tuition fees for those who meet select requirements.
To qualify, an out-of-state student must enroll at a state university in the semester after graduation, possess a high school diploma and score no lower than the 89th national percentile on the SAT.
Maney noted that Florida hosts the second-highest senior population by percentage in the nation. One in five Florida residents, he said, is 65 or older.
“The intention of this bill is to use that connection to recruit outstanding students to come to Florida, get sand between their toes, get educated and stay here and help our workforce,” Maney said.
If selected, the waiver is applicable to 110% of a degree program’s required credit hours. For example, a student would enjoy a 132-credit hour waiver in a 120-credit hour bachelor’s program.
Students or parents must also provide a written declaration verifying the student’s relationship to a grandparent residing in Florida.
Notably, the panel passed an amendment that removed a provision that excluded recipients from falling under the State University System’s limit on out-of-state student enrollment.
Maney said the amendment “lessens the potential fiscal impact.”
The proposal comes as lawmakers work to triage Florida’s COVID-19 induced budget shortfall.
It also comes as Republican leadership champions a proposal to limit Bright Futures.
The proposal, SB 86, would prioritize financial aid for degrees in needed career fields.
Rep. Amber Mariano, a Hudson Republican, noted the potential conflict.
“When it comes to what the Senate is doing, I don’t know how relevant that is to what your bill does,” Mariano said. “I think it’s clear that you’re focused on students and rewarding those taxpayers who have high-performing grandchildren.”
Sponsored by Republican Rep. David Smith of Winter Springs, HB 845 would offer military veterans, active duty service members and nontraditional students a free online course and tuition discount while enrolled at a Florida university.
HB 1261, meanwhile, would create a “Buy One, Get One Free” option for upper-level courses in a high-demand career field. Rep. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Republican, is the bill sponsor.
“In November, I challenged our members to find ways to open more doors of higher education to more of Florida’s students, and these bills will do much to expand their access,” Sprowls said. “I look forward to seeing these bills become law so Florida can continue to lead the way in the promise of quality education and employment outcomes for our students.”