Section 1009.57, Florida Statutes 2008
1009.57 Florida Teacher Scholarship and Forgivable Loan Program.--
(1) There is created the Florida Teacher Scholarship and Forgivable Loan Program to be administered by the Department of Education. The program shall provide scholarship assistance to eligible students for lower-division undergraduate study and loan assistance to eligible students for upper-division undergraduate and graduate study. The primary purpose of the program is to attract capable and promising students to the teaching profession, attract teachers to areas of projected or current critical teacher shortage, attract liberal arts and science graduates to teaching, and provide opportunity for persons making midcareer decisions to enter the teaching profession. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules necessary to administer the program and shall annually identify critical teacher shortage areas.
(2) Within the Florida Teacher Scholarship and Forgivable Loan Program shall be established the "Chappie" James Most Promising Teacher Scholarship which shall be offered to a top graduating senior from each public secondary school in the state. An additional number of "Chappie" James Most Promising Teacher Scholarship awards shall be offered annually to graduating seniors from private secondary schools in the state which are listed with the Department of Education and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or any other private statewide accrediting agency which makes public its standards, procedures, and member schools. The private secondary schools shall be in compliance with regulations of the Office for Civil Rights. The number of awards to private secondary school students shall be proportional to the number of awards available to public secondary school students and shall be calculated as the ratio of the number of private to public secondary school seniors in the state multiplied by the number of public secondary schools in the state.
(a) The scholarship may be used for attendance at a state university, a community college, or an independent institution as defined in s. 1009.89.
(b) The amount of the scholarship is $1,500 and may be renewed for 1 year if the student earns a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and 12 credit hours per term and meets the eligibility requirements for renewal of the award.
(c) To be eligible for the scholarship, a student shall: be ranked within the top quartile of the senior class; have been an active member of a high school future teacher organization, if such organization exists in the student's school; have earned a minimum unweighted cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale; file an application within the application period; meet the general requirements for student eligibility as provided in s. 1009.40, except as otherwise provided in this section; and have the intent to enter the public teaching profession in Florida.
(d) Three candidates from each public secondary school and one candidate from each nonpublic secondary school in the state shall be nominated by the principal and a committee of teachers, based on criteria which shall include, but need not be limited to, rank in class, standardized test scores, cumulative grade point average, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, an essay, and a declaration of intention to teach in a public school in the state.
(e) From public secondary school nominees, the Commissioner of Education shall select a graduating senior from each public high school to receive a scholarship. Selection of recipients from nonpublic secondary schools shall be made by a committee appointed by the Commissioner of Education comprised of representatives from nonpublic secondary schools and the Department of Education.
(f) Fifteen percent of scholarships awarded shall be to minority students. However, in the event that fewer than 15 percent of the total eligible nominees are minority students, the commissioner may allocate all award funds as long as a scholarship is reserved for each eligible minority nominee.
(3)(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, not to exceed $4,000 per year, or for a maximum of 3 years for programs requiring a fifth year of instruction to obtain initial teaching certification.
(c) A graduate forgivable loan may be awarded for 2 graduate years, not to 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.
History.--s. 435, ch. 2002-387.