(1) The Legislature finds and declares that independent nonprofit colleges and universities eligible to participate in the William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Grant Program are an integral part of the higher education system in this state and that a significant number of state residents choose this form of higher education. The Legislature further finds that a strong and viable system of independent nonprofit colleges and universities reduces the tax burden on the citizens of the state. Because the William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Grant Program is not related to a student’s financial need or other criteria upon which financial aid programs are based, it is the intent of the Legislature that the William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Grant Program not be considered a financial aid program but rather a tuition assistance program for its citizens.
(2) The William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Grant Program shall be administered by the Department of Education. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules for the administration of the program.
(3) The department shall issue through the program a William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education grant to any full-time degree-seeking undergraduate student registered at an independent nonprofit college or university which is located in and chartered by the state; which is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; which grants baccalaureate degrees; which is not a state university or Florida College System institution; and which has a secular purpose, so long as the receipt of state aid by students at the institution would not have the primary effect of advancing or impeding religion or result in an excessive entanglement between the state and any religious sect. Any independent college or university that was eligible to receive tuition vouchers on January 1, 1989, and which continues to meet the criteria under which its eligibility was established, shall remain eligible to receive William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education grant payments.
(4) A person is eligible to receive such William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education grant if:
(a) He or she meets the general requirements, including residency, for student eligibility as provided in s. 1009.40, except as otherwise provided in this section; and
(b)1. He or she is enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at an eligible college or university;
2. He or she is not enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree in theology or divinity; and
3. He or she is making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the college or university in which he or she is enrolled.
(5)(a) Funding for the William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Grant Program for eligible institutions shall be as provided in the General Appropriations Act. The William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education grant may be paid on a prorated basis in advance of the registration period. The department shall make such payments to the college or university in which the student is enrolled for credit to the student’s account for payment of tuition and fees. Institutions shall certify to the department the amount of funds disbursed to each student and shall remit to the department any undisbursed advances or refunds within 60 days of the end of regular registration. A student is not eligible to receive the award for more than 9 semesters or 14 quarters, except as otherwise provided in s. 1009.40(3).
(b) If the combined amount of the William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education grant issued pursuant to this act and all other scholarships and grants for tuition or fees exceeds the amount charged to the student for tuition and fees, the department shall reduce the William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education grant issued pursuant to this act by an amount equal to such excess.
(6) If the number of eligible students exceeds the total authorized in the General Appropriations Act, an institution may use its own resources to assure that each eligible student receives the full benefit of the grant amount authorized.