BOG moves to send foster kids to graduate school for free
Under Florida law, foster children who are admitted to a public state college or university are entitled to free tuition. But a Board of Governors has limited those students to a 120 credit-hour undergraduate degree, frustrating those foster students who take longer to graduate, or who want to pursue graduate-level courses.
The Tampa Bay Times reported in January that the Board of Governors had quietly told state universities to ignore its rule after lawyers on behalf of two students filed a petition against the Board. Legislation seeking to nullify the regulation was dropped after the Board committed to examine it.
Now, the Florida Board of Governors is planning to repeal that regulation and officially allow students from the foster system to exceed 120 credit hours and earn graduate degrees on the state. The amendment of the regulation cleared the finance committee's initial vote and will likely be finalized at the meeting of the full board tomorrow.
Tim Jones, vice chancellor for finance and administration for the Board of Governors, said his team was going to have a "summer project" with the legislative staff to "try to provide some consistency" on how the tuition waiver should be applied.
Advocates for foster children stress that as wards of the state, these students should be entitled to free tuition. Because such a small number attend college, let alone graduate school, advocates and lawmakers tend to agree the program is a drop in the financial bucket.