TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PAPER ON EXEMPTIONS AND FEE WAIVERS AUTHORIZED BY THE 2006 LEGISLATURE

 

The purpose of the paper is to provide technical assistance to universities on the exemptions and fee waivers that were authorized by the 2006 Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. 

SB 2034 – Exemption for Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans

Senate Bill 2034 was signed into law (Chapter 2006, 244) on June 20, 2006, effective July 1, 2006.  Sections 295.01, 295.02, 295.03, and 295.05, Florida Statutes, were amended to extend to spouses of eligible veterans certain state-sponsored educational benefits previously only available to the children of deceased or disabled veterans. 

The Department of Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA), is currently accepting late applications for Scholarships for Children of Deceased or Disabled Veterans in order to fund as many eligible spouses/students as 2006-07 funding allows.  The program will pay the equivalent of tuition and registration fees for degree or certificate programs for eligible applicants.

Program details for eligibility and the application process are found on the website at http://www.FloridaStudentFinancialAid.org/ by selecting “State Grants, Scholarships & Applications.”  Eligibility determinations will be made by OSFA.  The Department of Veterans’ Affairs coordinates with OSFA to certify veteran information.

SB 122 – Waiver for Recipients of Purple Heart or Superior Combat Decorations

Senate Bill 122 was signed into law (Chapter 2006, 233) on June 20, 2006, effective July 1, 2006.  Beginning in the 2006-2007 academic year, this legislation provides a fee waiver to recipients of the Purple Heart or other combat decoration superior in precedence if the recipient is enrolling in a Florida public community college or state university and provided he or she meets all of the following criteria:

1. Admitted as a full-time, part-time, or summer-school
  student in an undergraduate program of study leading to a degree or certificate;
             
2. Is currently, and was at the time of the military
  action that resulted in the awarding of the Purple Heart or other superior combat decoration, a resident of Florida; and
              
3. Submits to the community college or university the
  DD-214 form, issued at the time of separation from service, as documentation that he or she has received a Purple Heart or other combat decoration superior in precedence.
                

This waiver is applicable for 110 percent of the number of required credit hours of the degree or certificate program for which the student is enrolled.

Which combat decorations are included in this waiver provision?

The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs has indicated that the combat decorations that would qualify students for the provisions of this waiver include:

§         Purple Heart

§         Bronze Star (must be “V” designation or device)

§         Distinguished Flying Cross

§         Legion of Merit (must be “V” designation or device)

§         Silver Star

§         Air Force Cross

§         Navy Cross

§         Distinguished Service Cross

§         Medal of Honor

 

What is the “V” designation required on some combat decorations?

To be considered a “combat decoration superior in precedence to the Purple Heart,” the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit must include the “V” designation or device. 

Are students enrolled in certificate or graduate programs eligible for this fee waiver?

Students enrolled in an undergraduate program that terminates in an undergraduate degree or certificate would qualify.  Students enrolled in graduate or professional programs are not eligible.  The waiver is applicable for 110 percent of the number of required credit hours of the degree or certificate program for which the student is enrolled.

What evidence should be required to show residency at the time of the military action that resulted in the awarding of the Purple Heart or other superior combat decoration?

The burden of proof is on the student to provide one or more of the following documents evidencing residency in Florida at the time of the military action that resulted in the awarding of the combat decoration:

* DD-214 form, military separation document
* DD-2058 form, military state of legal residence
  certificate
* Leave and Earning Statement (LES) or the
  Defense Finance   and Accounting Service (DFAS) Form 702, which specifies place of residence
* Letter or affidavit from the military administrative
  office verifying residence at the time of combat
* Other state or federal documents evidencing
  legal ties to Florida (e.g., homestead exemption, driver’s license, vehicle registration)

 

What evidence should be required to show residency at the current time?

The student must meet the requirements of residency for tuition purposes specified in s. 1009.21, Florida Statutes, and Rule 6A-10.044, as adopted by the Board of Governors by resolution.

Is continuous residence in Florida from the time of the military action to the time of enrollment in a postsecondary institution required?

No.

What evidence is acceptable to show receipt of the Purple Heart or other combat decoration superior in precedence?

A Department of Defense Form 214 (DD-214) documenting the appropriate combat decoration should be the standard eligibility verification document as required by statute.

In situations where admissions or financial aid application deadlines preclude providing a DD-214 in time to meet such a deadline, the official (service specific) transmitting correspondence that would normally accompany such an award to a previously discharged service member would suffice until an updated DD-214 could be obtained and presented to the postsecondary institution.  However, the updated DD-214 must be submitted to the postsecondary institution by the start of the student’s next term of enrollment for continued eligibility for the waiver.

In situations where a service member is on active duty and has not been issued a DD-214, the official (service specific) transmitting correspondence that would normally accompany such an award or a certification of the appropriate combat award by the service specific administrative record holder [e.g., Adjutant, G-1 (general staff officer - personnel), or JAG (Judge Advocate General)] would meet the documentation requirement.

Are active duty military personnel eligible for this waiver?

Yes, certain active duty military personnel may be eligible for this waiver.  Since these individuals have not been discharged, they will not have the DD-214 form.  However, they may submit other evidence as clarified above.

Does this waiver constitute “countable aid?”

Yes, this waiver is considered “countable aid” for student financial aid purposes.  Therefore, if this waiver is administered by an office other than the college financial aid office, college officials must notify the Director of Financial Aid that a student has qualified for the waiver.

 

 

 

HB 7173 – Exemption for Those in Custody of Department of Children and Families

 

House Bill 7173 was signed into law (Chapter 2006, 194) on June 12, 2006, effective July 1, 2006.  It amends s. 1009.25, F.S., to require that certain educational tuition and fee exemptions be granted to those individuals who, after spending at least 6 months in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) after reaching age 16, were placed in a guardianship by the court. The previous reference to the Road to Independence Scholarship was deleted.  However, this exemption will likely be administered in the same way as previous years.  Specifically, DCF is responsible for certifying that students exiting the foster care system qualify for the educational fee exemption.  Eligible students are given an official fee exemption form on DCF letterhead. Students are instructed to submit the form to an appropriate college official as proof of eligibility for the exemption.  The university official should verify these students’ ages and the high school graduation dates as documented on the high school transcripts or other student records and work closely with DCF staff to include these students among those awarded fee exemptions.  A fee exemption may be used as a resource to determine a student’s financial need.  While the exemption impacts the need of the student, it will not impact the amount of Pell grant monies for which the student is eligible.  University officials are responsible for making individual student decisions in keeping with the Florida Statutes and all Board of Governors regulations.

What if the student submits an eligibility form that is not on DCF letterhead?

As in the past, this exemption may not be granted to a student unless it is on the appropriate DCF letterhead.  If you receive some other kind of eligibility form, please contact Ms. Lynda Page at the Board of Governors, State University System of Florida, so that she may contact the appropriate person at DCF to discuss.  Ms. Page can be reached at (850) 245-9693 or Lynda.Page@flbog.org. 

 

Additional Questions

If you have any additional questions about the information included in this Technical Assistance Paper, you may contact one of the following individuals:

Mr. Richard Stevens

Director, Academic and Student Affairs

(850) 245-9702 or Richard.Stevens@flbog.org

-or-

Ms. Lynda Page

Associate Director, Academic and Student Affairs

(850) 245-9693 or Lynda.Page@flbog.org

 

 

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