CS/HB 231

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to student financial assistance; creating
3s. 1009.893, F.S.; creating the Sure Futures Graduate
4Scholarship Program; providing purposes and goals for the
5program; creating s. 1009.894, F.S.; providing legislative
6findings and definitions; establishing the Sure Futures
7Foundation and a foundation board to administer the
8program; providing membership and duties of the board;
9providing eligibility criteria for participation in the
10program by students and sponsors; providing procedures for
11application to the program and selection of participants;
12requiring that sponsors and students participating in the
13program enter into a contract and specifying certain
14terms; providing benefits and requirements for students
15selected to participate in the program; requiring that a
16participating student who graduates with an advanced
17degree remain employed by his or her sponsor in this state
18for a specified period; providing that a prorated portion
19of the scholarship shall convert to a scholarship loan if
20certain obligations are not met; requiring that a sponsor
21make specified monetary contributions for scholarships and
22administrative costs of the program; providing for state
23matching of funds; authorizing sponsors to establish terms
24of sponsorship and specify universities at which a student
25may enroll to receive sponsorship; providing requirements
26if a sponsor terminates a scholarship employee; requiring
27that the Department of Education annually establish the
28amount necessary to cover certain costs; assigning
29administrative authority over scholarship loans to the
30Office of Student Financial Assistance in the department;
31providing duties and responsibilities of the State Board
32of Education, the department, and recipients with respect
33to the scholarship loans and their repayment; requiring
34that state universities make available certain information
35regarding the program; encouraging certain entities to
36promote participation in the program; requiring
37rulemaking; providing an appropriation; providing an
38effective date.
40Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
42     Section 1.  Section 1009.893, Florida Statutes, is created
43to read:
44     1009.893  Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship Program.--The
45Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship Program is created for the
46purpose of establishing a scholarship program to match private-
47sector businesses that need employees in Florida having advanced
48degrees with students seeking advanced degrees and employment.
49The goals of the program are to provide for a more highly
50educated workforce in Florida by offering students greater
51academic and financial access to the pursuit of advanced degrees
52in identified areas of critical need and to recruit and retain
53Florida's best and brightest graduate students by offering them
54comprehensive financial assistance to obtain advanced degrees
55and guaranteed employment in Florida with the private-sector
56businesses that have indicated their willingness to enter into
57partnerships in the program.
58     Section 2.  Section 1009.894, Florida Statutes, is created
59to read:
60     1009.894  The Sure Futures Foundation.--
61     (1)  The Legislature finds that public universities in this
62state can play a vital role in ensuring that students are given
63incentives to remain in the Florida education system and seek
64graduate degrees by offering financial incentives and diversity
65in education programs that contribute to filling the critical
66needs of private businesses in Florida. The Legislature
67recognizes that the United States Armed Forces have been
68extremely successful for many decades in recruiting and
69retaining exceptional students through scholarships in the
70Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs resulting in the
71requirement of a minimum 4-year service commitment from program
72graduates who are trained in and assigned to critical career
73fields. Lastly, the Legislature desires to model a workforce
74development program in this state that is similar to the proven
75Armed Forces ROTC programs in an effort to promote, recruit, and
76retain a qualified workforce to meet the demands of this state
77and its businesses.
78     (2)  As used in this section, the term:
79     (a)  "Sure Futures scholar" or "scholar" means a student
80who is admitted into at least one graduate program in an area of
81critical need identified by the Board of Governors in its most
82recent 10-year strategic plan and who has applied and been
83offered a Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship.
84     (b)  "Sure Futures sponsor" or "sponsor" means a
85corporation, partnership, limited liability company, sole
86proprietor, or other private-sector business entity
87participating in the Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship Program
88through supporting scholarships and providing employment
89opportunities for scholars pursuant to the provisions of this
91     (3)  The "Sure Futures Foundation," hereinafter referred to
92as "foundation," is established and shall seek designation under
93s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The foundation shall
94be governed by the Sure Futures Foundation Board, which shall
95administer the Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship Program with
96guidance from the Board of Governors and the State Board of
97Education. Duties of the foundation board shall include, but not
98be limited to:
99     (a)  Adoption of policies and procedures for implementation
100of the program, including, but not limited to, an application
101and matching process for students, scholars, and sponsors
102participating in the program.
103     (b)  Adoption of policies and procedures for receiving,
104processing, and managing contributions from sponsors and state
105matching dollars.
106     (c)  Establishment of a process for approval of printed and
107electronic materials, marketing, and advertising.
108     (d)  Establishment of a process and procedure for matching
109sponsors with scholars.
110     (e)  Establishment and maintenance, when applicable, of the
111foundation's scholarship loans.
112     (4)  The foundation board shall be comprised of the
113following eleven members:
114     (a)  The Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's
115designee, as an ex officio member.
116     (b)  The chair of the Board of Governors, or the chair's
117designee, as an ex officio member.
118     (c)  Three members from the State University System, with
119at least one member being a state university president,
120appointed by the Governor, who shall serve 2-year terms.
121     (d)  Three sponsors participating in the program,
122recommended by the Commissioner of Education and appointed by
123the Governor, who shall serve 2-year terms.
124     (e)  One graduate student recommended by the Commissioner
125of Education and appointed by the Governor, who shall serve a 1-
126year term.
127     (f)  One member of the Florida House of Representatives
128appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who
129shall serve a 2-year term as an ex-officio member.
130     (g)  One member of the Florida Senate appointed by the
131President of the Senate, who shall serve a 2-year term as an ex-
132officio member.
134The foundation board members shall serve without compensation
135but are entitled to receive reimbursement for travel and per
136diem expenses incurred in the performance of their duties in
137accordance with s. 112.061. The foundation board may enter into
138an agreement with a state university, the Department of
139Education, or the Board of Governors to provide operational and
140administrative services to the foundation, including, but not
141limited to, processing student and scholar applications,
142responding to sponsor letters of interest, disseminating
143information about the program, managing contributions and
144matching state dollars, and facilitating student and sponsor
146     (5)(a)  The following students are eligible as candidates
147for a Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship and thereby eligible to
148obtain a list of sponsors and the graduate degree programs for
149which such sponsors are seeking candidates:
150     1.  A student in his or her senior year who is an
151undergraduate student at a state university or a private college
152or university in the state and who intends to pursue a graduate
153degree program at a state university.
154     2.  A student in his or her senior year who is an
155undergraduate student at an out-of-state college or university
156but who would otherwise qualify as a resident for tuition
157purposes pursuant to s. 1009.21 and who intends to pursue a
158graduate degree program at a state university.
159     3.  A graduate of a college or university who qualifies as
160a resident for tuition purposes pursuant to s. 1009.21 and who
161intends to pursue a graduate degree program at a state
163     4.  Notwithstanding the provisions of this paragraph, a
164scholar shall not be an existing employee of the sponsor with
165whom he or she is matched.
166     (b)  A student shall apply to the foundation for a Sure
167Futures Graduate Scholarship using a standard application form.
168     (c)  An employer interested in participating in the Sure
169Futures Graduate Scholarship Program shall submit a letter of
170interest to the foundation. The letter of interest, at a
171minimum, shall indicate the interest of the business in becoming
172a sponsor, including the degree and program and the university
173or universities of interest. The foundation shall notify the
174employer of the graduate programs, the state university or
175universities at which the programs are offered, and the total
176cost of the program.
177     (d)  The foundation shall review student applications to
178match students and potential sponsors. The foundation shall
179notify each student applicant and potential sponsor of the match
180or matches. Each potential sponsor is responsible for
181interviewing the students and notifying the foundation of the
182student or students it wishes to sponsor. The foundation is
183responsible for determining the final match of the sponsor and
185     (e)  Once a match is finalized through the foundation, the
186student and the sponsor shall sign a contract whereby the
187scholar agrees to the scholarship loan offered by the sponsor,
188with a waiver-of-payment provision if a 4-year employment
189obligation is completed, and the sponsor is required to provide
190a defined 4-year employment position in the state. For each year
191that the scholar is enrolled full-time as a graduate student,
192the scholarship shall cover tuition, fees, and books for the
193degree program; health insurance with an option for the scholar
194to purchase additional coverage to buy a family plan for
195dependents; and room and board based on the university dormitory
196and meal plan rate.
197     (f)  A scholar must maintain a minimum grade point average
198as determined by the sponsor.
199     (g)  If a scholar does not take a full load of coursework
200during a summer semester, the scholar may be required by the
201sponsor to participate in an internship program.
202     (h)  Upon graduation, a scholar shall begin working for the
203sponsor and must remain employed in this state by the sponsor
204for a minimum of 4 years as stipulated in the contract.
205     (i)  If a scholar fails to maintain the required grade
206point average or the graduate terminates his or her employment
207before completing the 4-year obligation, a prorated portion of
208the scholarship shall convert to a scholarship loan administered
209by the Office of Student Financial Assistance in the Department
210of Education on behalf of the foundation, pursuant to subsection
212     (j)  The contract signed by the sponsor and the scholar
213shall clearly state the terms of the scholarship, the sponsor's
214expectations for the scholar's performance, employment
215requirements, and potential legal remedies if the terms and
216conditions of the contract are not met. The contract shall
217provide for the conversion of the scholarship to a scholarship
218loan under subsection (8) if the scholar is unable to complete
219all of the obligations of the contract and shall also provide
220for the matching of a scholar to an alternate sponsor if the
221original sponsor is unable to complete all of the obligations of
222the contract. The terms of such contract shall include, as a
223condition of the scholar accepting a match with a particular
224sponsor, provisions for noncompetition, nonsolicitation, and
225nondisclosure, as required by the sponsor, for up to 4 years
226following the scholar's completion of the graduate degree
228     (6)(a)  A sponsor shall make a monetary contribution to the
229program of at least 50 percent of the total scholarship funds
230necessary for completion of an eligible degree program pursuant
231to this section from which it wishes to draw students, plus an
232additional 3 percent per year for the foundation to cover
233administrative costs of the Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship
234Program. Contributions shall be made in one lump-sum payment to
235the foundation by a date specified in, and in accordance with,
236guidelines prescribed by the foundation. Beginning July 1, 2009,
237and continuing thereafter, such funds are eligible to be matched
238by the state on a dollar-for-dollar basis to the extent funds
239are appropriated by the Legislature for this purpose. A sponsor
240may contribute to one or more scholarships and must offer
241employment in Florida for each scholar to which the sponsor is
242matched for the 4-year contracted employment period.
243     (b)  A sponsor may establish terms of sponsorship,
244including, but not limited to, the degree sought, minimum grade
245point average, and requirements regarding extracurricular
247     (c)  A sponsor may select the state universities at which
248scholars may enroll or it may allow its scholarships to be
249available for study at any state university.
250     (d)  If a sponsor terminates a scholarship employee without
251cause before the employee completes the 4-year obligation, the
252employee is not required to repay any portion of the scholarship
253and may be matched with another sponsor to complete the
254remaining 4-year contracted employment period. The sponsor shall
255not be reimbursed for any amount paid to the foundation as a
256sponsor that is made on behalf of the scholar.
257     (e)  If a sponsor terminates a scholarship employee with
258cause before the employee completes the 4-year obligation, the
259employee is required to repay a prorated portion of the
260scholarship in the form of a scholarship loan under subsection
262     (7)(a)  On behalf of the foundation, the Office of Student
263Financial Assistance in the Department of Education shall
264establish a central database of sponsors, the graduate degree
265programs for which the sponsors are seeking scholars, and
266student applicants and their profiles. For purposes of this
267section, the foundation, in consultation with the office, shall
268establish a standard application for use by all state
270     (b)  On an annual basis, the Department of Education shall
271establish the amount necessary to cover the costs for degree
272programs for which a sponsor may make contributions pursuant to
273this section. State universities shall provide information in
274the manner and timeframe described by the department to enable
275the department to comply with the provisions of this paragraph.
276     (8)(a)  On behalf of the foundation, the Office of Student
277Financial Assistance in the Department of Education through the
278Florida Student Scholarship Grant Programs has the authority to
279administer the scholarship loans pursuant to this section.
280     (b)  The State Board of Education shall adopt by rule
281scholarship loan terms, repayment schedules, and procedures for
282collection, settlement, and charging off of delinquent unpaid
283and uncanceled scholarship loan notes. A scholarship loan must
284be repaid within 10 years.
285     (c)  The rate of interest and other charges shall be set by
286the Department of Education.
287     1.  Credit for repayment of a scholarship loan shall be in
288an amount not to exceed 25 percent in loan principal plus
289applicable accrued interest for each full year of employment
291     2.  A scholarship loan recipient is responsible for
292repaying the scholarship loan plus accrued interest at the rate
293of interest established pursuant to this section.
294     3.  Scholarship loan recipients may receive loan repayment
295credit when matched with another sponsor at any time during the
296scheduled repayment period. The scholar shall receive credit
297only for the remaining employment service provided for in the
298terms of the initial employment contract. Further, such
299repayment credit shall be applicable only to the current
300principal and accrued interest balance that remains at the time
301the repayment credit is earned. No scholarship loan recipient
302shall be reimbursed for previous cash payments of principal and
304     (9)  Prepared documentation and electronic information
305regarding the program shall be made available through the
306appropriate office at each state university. As deemed
307appropriate by its administration, a state university may
308provide additional information or activities, such as providing
309one-on-one discussions with advisors, conducting seminars on the
310program, or working with companies in its service area to create
311scholarships through the program.
312     (10)  State agencies, local workforce boards, chambers of
313commerce, and Enterprise Florida, Inc., are strongly encouraged
314to promote sponsor and scholar participation in the program.
315     (11)  The State Board of Education shall adopt rules
316pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 necessary to administer
317this section, including rules establishing application forms.
318     (12)  To the extent the funds contributed by a sponsor and
319any matching funds provided by the state are not sufficient to
320pay for the costs identified in paragraph (5)(e), the state
321university that enrolls the scholar may provide the difference
322in cost through grants or waivers.
323     Section 3.  There is appropriated in the form of a
324noninterest loan from nonrecurring general revenue a sum not to
325exceed $300,000 to the Sure Futures Foundation to pay for costs
326associated with establishing and administering the foundation
327and the Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship Program. Such
328appropriation shall be repaid by the foundation on or before
329December 31, 2010.
330     Section 4.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2008.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.