AN ACT TO CREATE THE HIGH ACHIEVING TUITION SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM FOR SCHOLARSHIPS FOR TOP PERFORMING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ATTENDING NORTH CAROLINA COMMUNITY COLLEGES.
Establishes the High Achieving Tuition Scholarship Program (Program) and sets out the Program's purposes, including: decreasing the strain that universities are experiencing from serving an increasing number of students, encouraging higher performing students at community colleges, and developing a more competitive workforce.
Eligible students must: (1) within seven months before applying for the scholarship, graduate with at least a 3.5 unweighted grade point average from either a public high school located in this state or a nonpublic high school or home school located in this State; (2) present evidence of United States citizenship; (3) qualify as a resident of this state for tuition purposes; (4) gain admission as a degree‑seeking student at a North Carolina community college; and (5) comply with Selective Service registration requirements.
Requires the State Education Assistance Authority (Authority) to annually award High Achieving Tuition Scholarships to all eligible students in an amount not to exceed the cost of 16 credit hours of tuition per fall or spring academic semester for a maximum of four academic semesters. Also requires the Authority to require students to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for a scholarship award and reduce the amount of the scholarship award for any student by the amount of grants or scholarships from other sources the student receives. Requires scholarships to be awarded to eligible students in the order in which they are received. Requires the Authority to award scholarships beginning with the fall semester of the 2016‑17 school year to students graduating from high school in the 2015‑16 school year.
Requires a scholarship to be renewed if the student maintains a 3.0 grade point average and completes of a minimum of 30 semester credit hours by the end of the academic year.
Requires a scholarship to be revoked for any of the following at the conclusion of each semester: (1) failure to maintain a 2.5 grade point average; (2) failure to maintain a course load of at least 12 credit hours; (3) default or unpaid refund on a student financial aid program; or (4) felony conviction for a controlled substances offense under Article 5 of GS Chapter 90.
Requires the Authority to adopt rules for administering the Program.
Requires the State Board of Community Colleges to adopt rules requiring community colleges to ensure scholarship recipients are provided counseling and assistance in selecting coursework that reflects their educational and career goals, and for students planning to enter a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, the State Board of Community Colleges is required ensure that credits earned by participating students are transferable.
Appropriates $2 million from the General Fund to the State Education Assistance Authority for 2016‑17 for administrative costs and award of scholarships. States the General Assembly's intent to appropriate $3.5 million in recurring funds for the 2017‑18 fiscal year for administrative costs and award of scholarships. Requires that any unexpended funds for this purpose not revert at the end of each fiscal year, but instead remain available to award scholarships to eligible students.
Requires the UNC Board of Governors to adopt a policy to allow any student admitted to a constituent university who receives a High Achieving Tuition Scholarship to defer admission to the constituent institution for two years, beginning with the 2016‑17 school year.
Requires the State Board of Education, for the 2015‑16 school year, to direct local boards of education to survey high school students in their senior year who meet the eligibility requirements of the High Achieving Tuition Scholarship to determine interest in the program. Requires the State Board of Education to report the survey results to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by December 1, 2015.
Requires the UNC Board of Governors and the State Board of Community Colleges to jointly identify and report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by April 1, 2016, on potential issues related to the transition of High Achieving Tuition Scholarship recipients from community college to university enrollment, and other recommendations to improve and expand the Program.
Requires the State Education Assistance Authority to report annually on or before March 1, beginning in 2017, to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on the implementation of the High Achieving Tuition Scholarship Program. Specifies information that must be included in the report.
Effective July 1, 2015.
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