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The Florida Senate

President Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 26, 2021

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229


Senate Advances Bill to Ensure College Tuition Exemptions for Students in DCF Care

Legislation increases access to dual enrollment, creates framework to reward exceptional university staff

Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), today passed Senate Bill 52, Postsecondary Education, by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R-Ft. Myers). The legislation makes a number of improvements to Florida’s postsecondary education structure, including clarifying state laws that secure tuition and fee waivers for students under the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), increasing access to dual enrollment, and authorizing universities to create individualized bonus structures that recognize specific faculty and staff.

“Whether they are in the custody of DCF, or living with a relative or foster family, students in the child welfare system have enough trials facing them as they enter adult life, and figuring out how to pay for college shouldn’t be one of them,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby). “This good bill clarifies the intention of our existing fee waiver to make sure it applies to all students eligible for this exemption, whether they enroll at a state technical center, college, or university before or after they turn 18 years old.”

“Dual enrollment helps our students make the most of their high school experience with a head start towards earning higher education credentials. This legislation increases access to dual enrollment opportunities for students in public, private, or virtual education settings,” said Senator Rodrigues. “Additionally, our universities should be able to reward exceptional employees without being required to consider across-the-board bonuses. This legislation authorizes universities to create individualized bonus structures for their best employees.”

Students in Department of Children and Families Custody

The bill clarifies that tuition and fee exemptions apply to a student who is currently in the custody of DCF or in the custody of a relative or nonrelative, or was at the time he or she reached 18 years of age. The exemption includes fees associated with enrollment in applied academics for adult education instruction and remains valid until the student reaches 28 years of age.

Dual Enrollment Scholarship

SB 52 establishes the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program within the Department of Education to support postsecondary institutions offering dual enrollment. Beginning in the 2021 fall term, the scholarship is available to reimburse eligible public and private postsecondary institutions for tuition and related instructional material costs for dual enrollment courses taken by eligible private school or home education program students during the fall or spring terms. The scholarship is available for all eligible students to participate in dual enrollment during summer terms, beginning in 2022.

State University System Employee Bonus Awards

The bill authorizes a university board of trustees to implement, subject to approval by the Board of Governors, a bonus program for university employees based on awards for employee work performance or employee recruitment and retention.