There is created the minority teacher education scholars program, which is a collaborative performance-based scholarship program for African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and Native American students. The participants in the program include Florida’s Florida College System institutions and its public and private universities that have teacher education programs.
(1) The minority teacher education scholars program shall provide an annual scholarship in an amount that shall be prorated based on available appropriations and may not exceed $4,000 for each approved minority teacher education scholar who is enrolled in one of Florida’s public or private universities in the junior year and is admitted into a teacher education program.
(2) To assist each participating education institution in the recruitment and retention of minority teacher scholars, the administrators of the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, Inc., shall implement a systemwide training program. The training program must include an annual conference or series of conferences for students who are in the program or who are identified by a high school or a Florida College System institution as likely candidates for the program. The training program must also include research about and dissemination concerning successful activities or programs that recruit minority students for teacher education and retain them through graduation, certification, and employment. Staff employed by the corporation may work with each participating education institution to assure that local faculty and administrators receive the benefit of all available research and resources to increase retention of their minority teacher education scholars.
(3) The total amount appropriated annually for new scholarships in the program must be divided by $4,000 and by the number of participating colleges and universities. Each participating institution has access to the same number of scholarships and may award all of them to eligible minority students. If a college or university does not award all of its scholarships by the date set by the program administration at the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, Inc., the remaining scholarships must be transferred to another institution that has eligible students. If the total amount appropriated for new scholarships is insufficient to award $4,000 to each eligible student, the amount of the scholarship shall be prorated based on available appropriations.
(4) A student may receive a scholarship from the program for 3 consecutive years if the student remains enrolled full-time in the program and makes satisfactory progress toward a baccalaureate degree with a major in education.
(5) If a minority teacher education scholar graduates and is employed as a teacher by a Florida district school board, the scholar is not required to repay the scholarship amount so long as the scholar teaches in a Florida public school. A scholar may repay the entire scholarship amount by remaining employed as a Florida public school teacher for 1 year for each year he or she received the scholarship.
(6) If a minority teacher education scholar does not graduate within 3 years, or if the scholar graduates but does not teach in a Florida public school, the scholar must repay the total amount awarded, plus annual interest of 8 percent.
(a) Interest begins accruing the first day of the 13th month after the month in which the recipient completes an approved teacher education program or after the month in which enrollment as a full-time student is terminated. Interest does not accrue during any period of deferment or eligible teaching service.
(b) The repayment period begins the first day of the 13th month after the month in which the recipient completes an approved teacher education program or after the month in which enrollment as a full-time student is terminated.
(c) The terms and conditions of the scholarship repayment must be contained in a promissory note and a repayment schedule. The loan must be paid within 10 years after the date of graduation or termination of full-time enrollment, including any periods of deferment. A shorter repayment period may be granted. The minimum monthly repayment is $50 or the unpaid balance, unless otherwise approved, except that the monthly payment may not be less than the accruing interest. The recipient may prepay any part of the scholarship without penalty.
(d) The holder of the promissory note may grant a deferment of repayment for a recipient who is a full-time student, who is unable to secure a teaching position that would qualify as repayment, who becomes disabled, or who experiences other hardships. Such a deferment may be granted for a total of 24 months.
(e) If a student defaults on the scholarship, the entire unpaid balance, including interest accrued, becomes due and payable at the option of the holder of the promissory note, or when the recipient is no longer able to pay or no longer intends to pay. The recipient is responsible for paying all reasonable attorney’s fees and other costs and charges necessary for administration of the collection process.
(7) The Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, Inc., shall use a contingency collections agency to collect repayments of defaulted scholarships.
(8) Funding for the program shall be as provided in the General Appropriations Act.