House panel passes grandparent out-of-state tuition waiver proposal

college tuition (Large)
The waiver seeks to attract the nation's brightest students.

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.”

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, meanwhile, applauded the bill and other education-related initiatives including HB 845 and HB 1261.

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.”

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.


5 comments

  • Michelle

    March 14, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Wow! These politician are really something! Who are they working for? Florida families? Or out of state families? Why not make the out of state kids that are enjoying this waver declare one of your chosen majors like you are trying to do your own Florida kids? Shame on all of you if you for messing with bright futures that helps thousands of kids attend college with lottery money, not tax dollars! Hands off!

    For bill SB86

  • Daryl Penniman

    March 14, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    This is shameful! To give out of state students over 130 hours of tuition and restrict in state Florida students is ridiculous.

  • K. AManda Dandy

    March 15, 2021 at 10:30 am

    This plan is nothing more than politicians trying to alter the demographics of the state on the backs of the hardest working Floridian high school students. Redirecting the funds from the lottery will lead to less people contributing to it . Trying to alter the average age in Florida downward will result in fewer start-up industries settling here and could lead to even more seniors moving here in order to help out their grandchildren. In addition, you will drive out Floridian students to other states with little to no incentive for students to stay here. If you look at statistics a large proportion of graduating college seniors settle where they have studied. Floridian colleges are enjoying much higher national rankings over the past ten or so years and this attempt to shift student populations could easily be costly for them. More out-of -state students will require dorm space or similar.
    A better solution should be a monetary incentive to a few threatened career shortages such as nursing, teaching and medical .
    This is a poorly devised plan which will be harmful to Florida’s and the universities’ economy , to existing Floridian households and to the bright futures of our students.

  • Ryan Maker

    March 20, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    This is OBSCENE!!!

    While actively working to limit Bright Futures benefits to very high achieving student RESIDENTS of Florida, our legislature is simultaneously pandering to a constituency of relocated retirees. Every citizen of this state should be outraged right now. The benefit of giving an out-of-state student in-state tuition is akin to a roughly $16,000 per year scholarship to out-of-state students. Again, this is happening at the same time that the Republican-led state legislative body is moving bills through to gut Bright Futures and shift monies to for-profit education at the K-12 level. Have you no shame?

  • Sandra Coffey

    March 20, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    This is soooooo WRONG‼️Why give the OOS students more scholarship fund than our own OUTSTANDING Florida students earning the same grades, GPA & more it does not make any sense, I don’t see any other state making exceptions for OOS outstanding Florida students. WHY is this even up gor debate these students in Florida have EARNED everything they have worked towards nothing is being handed to them & definitely not feeling ENTITLED…..YES EARNED‼️With SB86 you are not only hurting these students but the families as well during the worst year of our life A PANDEMIC!!! Please VOTE NO TO SB86‼️

Comments are closed.


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