Proposed bill offers free college tuition in Florida... but there's a catch

Posted at 8:24 AM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 08:29:57-04

A new bill proposed on Monday by a South Florida representative calls for the state to pay the tuition costs of many Florida students at state colleges, but there's a catch.

Rep. Shevrin D. Jones of West Park filed HB-181 which would create a program to cover the total cost of tuition for Florida residents whose household income is under $125,000 annually. The program is called the “Sunshine Scholarship Program.”

The catch? The Sunshine Scholarship Program would offer students free college tuition, if they agree to live and work in Florida after graduating.

If the bill passes, anyone who receives free college tuition as a part of the Sunshine Scholarship Program is required to live and work within the state for the same period of time he or she received funds from the program. If they chose to move or work outside of the state after graduation, they will be required to repay the total tuition cost, plus an annual interest rate equal to the federal student loan interest rate in effect when the student entered the program.

"The Sunshine Scholarship Program shall provide funding for 100 percent of an eligible student's tuition at a Florida College System institution for up to 72 credit hours for an associate degree program and 120 credit hours for a baccalaureate degree program," the proposal reads.

Additionally, the funding would apply only to tuition, not other costs associated with college such as textbooks and additional student fees. The bill is filed for the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January.