SCS/HCS/HB 225 - This act establishes the "Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant" to provide grants for Missouri citizens to attend an approved Missouri postsecondary institution of their choice.
To be eligible, a student must meet certain criteria set forth in the act, including having an adjusted gross income of less than $80,000 if the taxpayer's filing status is married filing combined, or $40,000 for all other taxpayers. In addition, such student must be at least 25 years of age, or has not been enrolled in an educational program for the prior two academic years. Grant funding may be renewed, but the student must continue to meet the eligibility requirements and must demonstrate a grade-point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
Eligibility for a grant expires upon the earliest of receipt of the grant for four semesters or the equivalent, receipt of a bachelor degree, or reaching 200% of the time typically required to complete the program of study.
The Coordinating Board for Higher Education must designate eligible programs of study by January 1, 2020. The eligible programs must be reviewed and updated by the Coordinating Board annually.
In addition, the Coordinating Board shall be the administrative agency for implementation of the program, shall determine the criteria for eligibility, shall evaluate each applicant's eligibility, and shall select qualified recipients. The Coordinating Board shall also determine eligibility for renewed assistance.
Grants shall be awarded in an amount equal to the actual tuition and general fees charged of an eligible student after all other federal and state aid are applied. If a grant amount is reduced to zero due to the receipt of other aid, the eligible student shall receive an award of up to $500 or the remaining cost of attendance, whichever is less.
If appropriated funds are insufficient to fund the program, students applying for renewed assistance shall be given priority until all funds are expended.
Students may transfer the financial assistance from one approved public, private, or virtual institution to another without losing eligibility for the program.
A student is eligible for the grant provided such student successfully completes counseling explaining the benefits and obligations of the program and the consequences of noncompliance and executes a promissory note acknowledging that the fast track grant will be converted into a loan if a student fails to meet the conditions set forth in the act. Such conditions shall include the maintenance of at least half-time enrollment in an eligible program, with an interruption of qualifying enrollment of no more than 12 consecutive months from the last day of the most recent payment period during which the student received a fast track award, graduation from an approved institution, residency within the state of Missouri within 12 months after the date of the student's graduation, and qualifying employment within 12 month's of the student's graduation.
Students who receive grants shall be required to submit proof of residency and qualifying employment to the Coordinating Board within 30 days of completing each 12 months of qualifying employment until the employment obligation is fulfilled.
If a student fails to comply with the terms of the promissory note, the grant will be converted into a loan. The loan shall accrue interest at the federal direct loan interest rate for the Direct Subsidized Undergraduate Loans in effect at the time the student enters the program. For a recipient who fulfills some, but not all, of his or her three-year residency and employment obligations, the amount of the grant that is converted to a loan shall be reduced by one-third for each period of 12 months of residency and employment the student completed as verified by the Coordinating Board.
The Coordinating Board shall provide a waiver of repayment to a student due to permanent disability or death, or the permanent disability or death of such student's spouse or child. The Coordinating Board shall establish a procedure and guidelines for granting a loan discharge for students who are unable to fulfill the obligation due to his or her permanent disability or death or the permanent disability or death of his or her spouse or child.
This act creates in the State Treasury the "Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant Fund". The fund shall be used solely by the Coordinating Board for the purposes of this act.
This act is identical to HCS/SB 68 (2019), and is similar to SCS/SB 16 (2019).