Bill that would provide free college tuition for Florida residents moves ahead in House

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) - A bill that would provide free college tuition to thousands of students in Florida is moving ahead in the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat from West Park, filed House Bill 181 back in September, which aims to establish the Sunshine Scholarship Program. After review by the Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee, the bill passed with a unanimous 12-0 vote.

The proposal would cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for public colleges and universities in Florida for in-state residents whose annual household income is under $50,000, as long as they agree to live and work in the Sunshine State after graduation.

Recipients must be full-time students seeking associate degrees or career certificates, and will have to live and work in Florida for the same amount of time they received funds from the program. They must also maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average.

Prior to the subcommittee vote, the original bill had been written to cover bachelor degrees in addition to associate degrees, and had an annual income cap of $125,000. An amendment reduced the scholarship coverage to two years, as well as lowering the household income threshold to $50,000.

If passed, the program would go into effect in July 2018.

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