[r91] Bill to provide college scholarships to early high school graduates heard in House (4/12/2011)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Start Date: 4/12/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/12/2011
Reps. Behning and Rhoads sponsor Senate Bill 497

STATEHOUSE - Reps. Bob Behning (R- Indianapolis) and Rhonda Rhoads (R-Corydon) sponsored legislation to provide an early graduation college scholarships to students who graduate before grade 12. The bill was debated on second reading today in the House chamber.

"Giving students the opportunity to graduate early and receive the money the school district saves to begin working toward obtaining a college degree allows us to get more education for our dollars," said Rep. Behning, Chairman of the House Education Committee. "This is yet another tool to allow families to choose the educational path that best meets the needs of their student."

To be eligible for the scholarship, Senate Bill 497 would require a student to be a resident of Indiana and attend a publicly-funded school full time for at least two semesters before graduating high school; meet the minimum graduation requirements set by the State Board of Education; and enroll in a two or four year program in a postsecondary educational institution in Indiana.

Senate Bill 497 requires the State Board of Education to amend its high school graduation rules to facilitate graduation from high school in less than seven semesters. In addition, they would allow a student to participate in an early college, a dual credit or a dual enrollment program during any grade in high school.

The bill specifies that the scholarship amount is equal to the foundation amount that applies to the determination of state tuition support distributions in the calendar year in which an early graduation scholarship is awarded. This bill was amended in the House Education Committee. The adopted amendment specifies that the scholarship, in addition to being used toward tuition, can also be used for fees, books, supplies and equipment required for courses of instruction. The amendment further states that any dollars unused should be applied to the subsequent school year.

"We should be rewarding the efforts made by students who are eager to further their education by giving them the additional opportunity to attend college early if desired," said Rep. Rhoads, Vice-Chairman of the House Education Committee.  "In addition, an accelerated graduation program may also help reduce dropout rates and increase college completion rates."

Senate Bill 497 will now be scheduled for a final hearing and vote later this week in the House, before returning to the Senate for further discussion.