(2)(a) Within the Florida Teacher Scholarship and Forgivable Loan Program shall be established the Florida Critical Teacher Shortage Forgivable Loan Program which shall make undergraduate and graduate forgivable loans available to eligible students entering programs of study that lead to a degree in a teaching program in a critical teacher shortage area. To be eligible for a program loan, a candidate shall: 1. Be a full-time student at the upper-division undergraduate or graduate level in a teacher training program approved by the department pursuant to s. 1004.04 leading to certification in a critical teacher shortage subject area.
2. Have declared an intent to teach, for at least the number of years for which a forgivable loan is received, in publicly funded elementary or secondary schools of Florida in a critical teacher shortage area identified by the State Board of Education. For purposes of this subsection, a school is publicly funded if it receives at least 75 percent of its operating costs from governmental agencies and operates its educational program under contract with a public school district or the Department of Education.
3. Meet the general requirements for student eligibility as provided in s. 1009.40, except as otherwise provided in this section.
4. If applying for an undergraduate forgivable loan, have maintained a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale for all undergraduate work. Renewal applicants for undergraduate loans shall maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale for all undergraduate work and have earned at least 12 semester credits per term, or the equivalent.
5. If applying for a graduate forgivable loan, have maintained an undergraduate cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or have attained a Graduate Record Examination score of at least 1,000. Renewal applicants for graduate loans shall maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all graduate work and have earned at least 9 semester credits per term, or the equivalent.
(b) An undergraduate forgivable loan may be awarded for 2 undergraduate years or for a maximum of 3 years for programs requiring a fifth year of instruction to obtain initial teaching certification. The amount of the scholarship shall be prorated based on available appropriations and may not exceed $4,000 per year.
(c) A graduate forgivable loan may be awarded for 2 graduate years. The amount of the scholarship shall be prorated based on available appropriations and may not exceed $8,000 per year. In addition to meeting criteria specified in paragraph (a), a loan recipient at the graduate level shall:
1. Hold a bachelor’s degree from any college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association as defined by State Board of Education rule.
2. Not already hold a teaching certificate resulting from an undergraduate degree in education in an area of critical teacher shortage as designated by the State Board of Education.
3. Not have received an undergraduate forgivable loan as provided for in paragraph (b).
(d) Recipients of the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarship Loan Program as authorized under title IV, part D, subpart 1 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, shall not be eligible to participate in the Florida Critical Teacher Shortage Forgivable Loan Program.
(e) The State Board of Education shall adopt by rule repayment schedules and applicable interest rates under ss. 1009.82 and 1009.95. A forgivable loan must be repaid within 10 years of completion of a program of studies.
1. Credit for repayment of an undergraduate or graduate forgivable loan shall be in an amount not to exceed $4,000 in loan principal plus applicable accrued interest for each full year of eligible teaching service. However, credit in an amount not to exceed $8,000 in loan principal plus applicable accrued interest shall be given for each full year of eligible teaching service completed at a high-density, low-economic urban school or at a low-density, low-economic rural school, as identified by the State Board of Education.
2. Any forgivable loan recipient who fails to teach in a publicly funded elementary or secondary school in this state as specified in this subsection is responsible for repaying the loan plus accrued interest at 8 percent annually.
3. Forgivable loan recipients may receive loan repayment credit for teaching service rendered at any time during the scheduled repayment period. However, such repayment credit shall be applicable only to the current principal and accrued interest balance that remains at the time the repayment credit is earned. No loan recipient shall be reimbursed for previous cash payments of principal and interest.
(f) Funds appropriated by the Legislature for the program shall be deposited in the State Student Financial Assistance Trust Fund.