(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDING; EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY.—The Legislature recognizes that educational opportunity at the postsecondary level is a critical state interest and is best ensured through the provision of postsecondary institutions that are geographically and financially accessible, that affordability and accessibility of higher education are essential to the welfare and well-being of the residents of the state and are a critical state interest, and that promoting and enhancing financial access to postsecondary institutions serve a legitimate public purpose.
(2) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—It is the intent of the Legislature that a prepaid program be established through which many of the costs associated with postsecondary attendance may be paid in advance and fixed at a guaranteed level for the duration of undergraduate enrollment and that this program fosters timely financial planning for postsecondary attendance and to encourage employer participation in such planning through program contributions on behalf of employees and the dependents of employees. It is further the intent of the Legislature that a savings program be established as a supplement and alternative to the prepaid program to allow persons to make contributions to a trust account to meet some or all of the qualified higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary, consistent with federal law authorizing such programs, but without a guarantee by the state that such contributions, together with the investment return on such contributions, if any, will be adequate to pay for qualified higher education expenses, to enable participants to save for qualified higher education expenses, and to provide a choice to persons who determine that the overall educational needs of their families are best suited to a savings program or who wish to save to meet postsecondary educational needs beyond the traditional 4-year curriculum. Finally, the Legislature intends that the prepaid program and the savings program be conducted in a manner to maximize program efficiency and effectiveness.
(3) DEFINITIONS.—As used in ss. 1009.97-1009.984, the term: (a) “Advance payment contract” means a contract entered into by the board and a purchaser pursuant to s. 1009.98.
(b) “Board” means the Florida Prepaid College Board.
(c) “Trust fund” means the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund.
(d) “Prepaid program” means the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program established pursuant to s. 1009.98.
(e) “Purchaser” means a person who makes or is obligated to make advance registration or dormitory residence payments in accordance with an advance payment contract.
(f) “Qualified beneficiary” means:
1. A resident of this state at the time a purchaser enters into an advance payment contract on behalf of the resident;
2. A nonresident who is the child of a noncustodial parent who is a resident of this state at the time that such parent enters into an advance payment contract on behalf of the child; or
3. For purposes of advance payment contracts entered into pursuant to s. 1009.983, a graduate of an accredited high school in this state who is a resident of this state at the time he or she is designated to receive the benefits of the advance payment contract.
(g) “Registration fee” means tuition fee, financial aid fee, building fee, and Capital Improvement Trust Fund fee.
(h) “State postsecondary institution” means any Florida College System institution or state university.
(i) “Benefactor” means any person making a deposit, payment, contribution, gift, or other expenditure into the savings program.
(j) “Designated beneficiary” means:
1. Any individual designated in the participation agreement;
2. Any individual defined in s. 152(a)(1)-(8) of the Internal Revenue Code; or
3. Any individual receiving a scholarship from interests in the program purchased by a state or local government or an organization described in s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
(k) “Eligible educational institution” means an institution of higher education that qualifies under s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code as an eligible educational institution.
(l) “Internal Revenue Code” means the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as defined in s. 220.03(1), and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
(m) “Participation agreement” means an agreement between the board and a benefactor for participation in the savings program for a designated beneficiary.
(n) “Savings program” means the Florida College Savings Program established pursuant to s. 1009.981.
(o) “Qualified higher education expenses” means higher education expenses permitted under s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code and required for the enrollment or attendance of a designated beneficiary at an eligible educational institution, including undergraduate and graduate schools, and any other higher education expenses that are permitted under s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.
(p) “Prepaid fund” means the fund within the trust fund into which moneys belonging to the prepaid program are deposited and held.
(q) “Savings fund” means the fund within the trust fund into which moneys belonging to the savings program are deposited and held.