(1) There is created a Florida Postsecondary Student Assistance Grant Program. The program shall be administered by the participating institutions in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education.
(2)(a) Florida postsecondary student assistance grants may be made only to full-time degree-seeking students who meet the general requirements for student eligibility as provided in s. 1009.40, except as otherwise provided in this section. Such grants shall be awarded for the amount of demonstrated unmet need for tuition and fees and may not exceed the maximum annual award amount specified in the General Appropriations Act. A demonstrated unmet need of less than $200 shall render the applicant ineligible for a Florida postsecondary student assistance grant. Recipients of such grants must have been accepted at a postsecondary institution that is located in this state and that is:
1. A private nursing diploma school approved by the Florida Board of Nursing; or
2. A college or university licensed by the Commission for Independent Education, excluding those institutions the students of which are eligible to receive a Florida private student assistance grant pursuant to s. 1009.51.
If funds are available, a student who received an award in the fall or spring term may receive an award in the summer term. Priority in the distribution of summer awards shall be given to students who are within one semester of completing a degree or certificate program. No student may receive an award for more than the equivalent of 9 semesters or 14 quarters of full-time enrollment, except as otherwise provided in s. 1009.40(3).
(b) A student applying for a Florida postsecondary student assistance grant shall be required to apply for the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant entitlement shall be considered when conducting an assessment of the financial resources available to each student.
(c) Priority in the distribution of grant moneys may be given to students who are within one semester of completing a degree or certificate program. An institution may not make a grant from this program to a student whose expected family contribution exceeds one and one-half times the maximum Pell Grant-eligible family contribution. An institution may not impose additional criteria to determine a student’s eligibility to receive a grant award.
(d) Each participating institution shall report to the department by the established date the students eligible for the program for each academic term. Each institution shall also report to the department necessary demographic and eligibility data for such students.
(3) Based on the unmet financial need of an eligible applicant, the amount of a Florida postsecondary student assistance grant must be between $200 and the amount specified in the General Appropriations Act.
(4)(a) The funds appropriated for the Florida Postsecondary Student Assistance Grant 1Program shall be distributed to eligible institutions in accordance with a formula approved by the State Board of Education. The formula must consider at least the prior year’s distribution of funds, the number of eligible applicants who did not receive awards, the standardization of the expected family contribution, and provisions for unused funds. The formula must account for changes in the number of eligible students across all student assistance grant programs established pursuant to this section and ss. 1009.50, 1009.505, and 1009.51.
(b) Payment of Florida postsecondary student assistance grants shall be transmitted to the president of the eligible institution, or to his or her representative, in advance of the registration period. Institutions shall notify students of the amount of their awards.
(c) The eligibility status of each student to receive a disbursement shall be determined by each institution as of the end of its regular registration period, inclusive of a drop-add period. Institutions shall not be required to reevaluate a student’s eligibility status after this date for purposes of changing eligibility determinations previously made.
(d) Institutions shall certify to the department within 30 days after the end of regular registration each term the amount of funds disbursed to each student and shall remit to the department any undisbursed advances within 60 days after the end of regular registration each spring term. An exception to the remittance deadline may be granted if the institution documents to the department how it plans to disburse awards to students for the subsequent summer term. An institution that uses funds for the summer term shall certify to the department the amount of funds disbursed to each student and shall remit to the department any undisbursed advances within 30 days after the end of the summer term.
(e) Each institution that receives moneys through the Florida Postsecondary Student Assistance Grant Program shall prepare a biennial report that includes a financial audit, conducted by an independent certified public accountant, of the institution’s administration of the program and a complete accounting of moneys for the program. Such report shall be submitted to the department by March 1 every other year. The department may conduct its own annual or biennial audit of an institution’s administration of the program and its allocated funds in lieu of the required biennial report and financial audit report. The department may suspend or revoke an institution’s eligibility to receive future moneys for the program or request a refund of any moneys overpaid to the institution for the program if the department finds that an institution has not complied with this section. Any refund requested pursuant to this paragraph shall be remitted within 60 days after notification by the department.
(5) Any institution that was eligible to receive state student assistance grants on January 1, 1989, and that is not eligible to receive grants pursuant to s. 1009.51 is eligible to receive grants pursuant to this section. (6) Funds appropriated by the Legislature for Florida postsecondary student assistance grants may be deposited in the State Student Financial Assistance Trust Fund. Notwithstanding s. 216.301 and pursuant to s. 216.351, any balance in the trust fund at the end of any fiscal year which has been allocated to the Florida Postsecondary Student Assistance Grant Program shall remain therein and shall be available for carrying out the purposes of this section and as otherwise provided by law.
(7) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules necessary to implement this section.