(110 ILCS 947/52)
    Sec. 52. Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program; Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching.
    (a) In this Section, "Foundation" means the Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching, a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
    (a-2) In order to encourage academically talented Illinois students, especially minority students, to pursue teaching careers, especially in teacher shortage disciplines (which shall be defined to include early childhood education) or at hard-to-staff schools (as defined by the Commission in consultation with the State Board of Education), to provide those students with the crucial mentoring, guidance, and in-service support that will significantly increase the likelihood that they will complete their full teaching commitments and elect to continue teaching in targeted disciplines and hard-to-staff schools, and to ensure that students in this State will continue to have access to a pool of highly-qualified teachers, each qualified student shall be awarded a Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program scholarship to any Illinois institution of higher learning. The Commission shall administer the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program, which shall be managed by the Foundation pursuant to the terms of a grant agreement meeting the requirements of Section 4 of the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act.
    (a-3) For purposes of this Section, a qualified student shall be a student who meets the following qualifications:
        (1) is a resident of this State and a citizen or
    
eligible noncitizen of the United States;
        (2) is a high school graduate or a person who has
    
received a high school equivalency certificate;
        (3) is enrolled or accepted, on at least a half-time
    
basis, at an institution of higher learning;
        (4) is pursuing a postsecondary course of study
    
leading to initial certification or pursuing additional course work needed to gain State Board of Education approval to teach, including alternative teacher licensure; and
        (5) is a participant in programs managed by and is
    
approved to receive a scholarship from the Foundation.
    (a-5) (Blank).
    (b) (Blank).
    (b-5) Funds designated for the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program shall be used by the Commission for the payment of scholarship assistance under this Section or for the award of grant funds, subject to the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act, to the Foundation. Subject to appropriation, awards of grant funds to the Foundation shall be made on an annual basis and following an application for grant funds by the Foundation.
    (b-10) Each year, the Foundation shall include in its application to the Commission for grant funds an estimate of the amount of scholarship assistance to be provided to qualified students during the grant period. Any amount of appropriated funds exceeding the estimated amount of scholarship assistance may be awarded by the Commission to the Foundation for management expenses expected to be incurred by the Foundation in providing the mentoring, guidance, and in-service supports that will increase the likelihood that qualified students will complete their teaching commitments and elect to continue teaching in hard-to-staff schools. If the estimate of the amount of scholarship assistance described in the Foundation's application is less than the actual amount required for the award of scholarship assistance to qualified students, the Foundation shall be responsible for using awarded grant funds to ensure all qualified students receive scholarship assistance under this Section.
    (b-15) All grant funds not expended or legally obligated within the time specified in a grant agreement between the Foundation and the Commission shall be returned to the Commission within 45 days. Any funds legally obligated by the end of a grant agreement shall be liquidated within 45 days or otherwise returned to the Commission within 90 days after the end of the grant agreement that resulted in the award of grant funds.
    (c) Each scholarship awarded under this Section shall be in an amount sufficient to pay the tuition and fees and room and board costs of the Illinois institution of higher learning at which the recipient is enrolled, up to an annual maximum of $5,000; except that in the case of a recipient who does not reside on-campus at the institution of higher learning at which he or she is enrolled, the amount of the scholarship shall be sufficient to pay tuition and fee expenses and a commuter allowance, up to an annual maximum of $5,000. All scholarship funds distributed in accordance with this Section shall be paid to the institution on behalf of recipients.
    (d) The total amount of scholarship assistance awarded by the Commission under this Section to an individual in any given fiscal year, when added to other financial assistance awarded to that individual for that year, shall not exceed the cost of attendance at the institution of higher learning at which the student is enrolled. In any academic year for which a qualified student under this Section accepts financial assistance through any other teacher scholarship program administered by the Commission, a qualified student shall not be eligible for scholarship assistance awarded under this Section.
    (e) A recipient may receive up to 8 semesters or 12 quarters of scholarship assistance under this Section. Scholarship funds are applicable toward 2 semesters or 3 quarters of enrollment each academic year.
    (f) All applications for scholarship assistance to be awarded under this Section shall be made to the Foundation in a form determined by the Foundation. Each year, the Foundation shall notify the Commission of the individuals awarded scholarship assistance under this Section. Each year, at least 30% of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program scholarships shall be awarded to students residing in counties having a population of less than 500,000.
    (g) (Blank).
    (h) The Commission shall administer the payment of scholarship assistance provided through the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program and shall make all necessary and proper rules not inconsistent with this Section for the effective implementation of this Section.
    (i) Prior to receiving scholarship assistance for any academic year, each recipient of a scholarship awarded under this Section shall be required by the Foundation to sign an agreement under which the recipient pledges that, within the 2-year period following the termination of the academic program for which the recipient was awarded a scholarship, the recipient: (i) shall begin teaching for a period of not less than 5 years, (ii) shall fulfill this teaching obligation at a nonprofit Illinois public, private, or parochial preschool or an Illinois public elementary or secondary school that qualifies for teacher loan cancellation under Section 465(a)(2)(A) of the federal Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087ee(a)(2)(A)) or other Illinois schools deemed eligible for fulfilling the teaching commitment as designated by the Foundation, and (iii) shall, upon request of the Foundation, provide the Foundation with evidence that he or she is fulfilling or has fulfilled the terms of the teaching agreement provided for in this subsection. Upon request, the Foundation shall provide evidence of teacher fulfillment to the Commission.
    (j) If a recipient of a scholarship awarded under this Section fails to fulfill the teaching obligation set forth in subsection (i) of this Section, the Commission shall require the recipient to repay the amount of the scholarships received, prorated according to the fraction of the teaching obligation not completed, plus interest at a rate of 5% and if applicable, reasonable collection fees. Payments received by the Commission under this subsection (j) shall be remitted to the State Comptroller for deposit into the General Revenue Fund, except that that portion of a recipient's repayment that equals the amount in expenses that the Commission has reasonably incurred in attempting collection from that recipient shall be remitted to the State Comptroller for deposit into the Commission's Accounts Receivable Fund.
    (k) A recipient of a scholarship awarded by the Foundation under this Section shall not be considered to have failed to fulfill the teaching obligations of the agreement entered into pursuant to subsection (i) if the recipient (i) enrolls on a full-time basis as a graduate student in a course of study related to the field of teaching at an institution of higher learning; (ii) is serving as a member of the armed services of the United States; (iii) is a person with a temporary total disability, as established by sworn affidavit of a qualified physician; (iv) is seeking and unable to find full-time employment as a teacher at a school that satisfies the criteria set forth in subsection (i) and is able to provide evidence of that fact; (v) is taking additional courses, on at least a half-time basis, needed to obtain certification as a teacher in Illinois; (vi) is fulfilling teaching requirements associated with other programs administered by the Commission and cannot concurrently fulfill them under this Section in a period of time equal to the length of the teaching obligation; or (vii) is participating in a program established under Executive Order 10924 of the President of the United States or the federal National Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12501 et seq.). Any such extension of the period during which the teaching requirement must be fulfilled shall be subject to limitations of duration as established by the Commission.
    (l) A recipient who fails to fulfill the teaching obligations of the agreement entered into pursuant to subsection (i) of this Section shall repay the amount of scholarship assistance awarded to them under this Section within 10 years.
    (m) Annually, at a time determined by the Commission in consultation with the Foundation, the Foundation shall submit a report to assist the Commission in monitoring the Foundation's performance of grant activities. The report shall describe the following:
        (1) the Foundation's anticipated expenditures for the
    
next fiscal year;
        (2) the number of qualified students receiving
    
scholarship assistance at each institution of higher learning where a qualified student was enrolled under this Section during the previous fiscal year;
        (3) the total monetary value of scholarship funds
    
paid to each institution of higher learning at which a qualified student was enrolled during the previous fiscal year;
        (4) the number of scholarship recipients who
    
completed a baccalaureate degree during the previous fiscal year;
        (5) the number of scholarship recipients who
    
fulfilled their teaching obligation during the previous fiscal year;
        (6) the number of scholarship recipients who failed
    
to fulfill their teaching obligation during the previous fiscal year;
        (7) the number of scholarship recipients granted an
    
extension described in subsection (k) of this Section during the previous fiscal year;
        (8) the number of scholarship recipients required to
    
repay scholarship assistance in accordance with subsection (j) of this Section during the previous fiscal year;
        (9) the number of scholarship recipients who
    
successfully repaid scholarship assistance in full during the previous fiscal year;
        (10) the number of scholarship recipients who
    
defaulted on their obligation to repay scholarship assistance during the previous fiscal year;
        (11) the amount of scholarship assistance subject to
    
collection in accordance with subsection (j) of this Section at the end of the previous fiscal year;
        (12) the amount of collected funds to be remitted to
    
the Comptroller in accordance with subsection (j) of this Section at the end of the previous fiscal year; and
        (13) other information that the Commission may
    
reasonably request.
    (n) Nothing in this Section shall affect the rights of the Commission to collect moneys owed to it by recipients of scholarship assistance through the Illinois Future Teacher Corps Program, repealed by this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly.
    (o) The Auditor General shall prepare an annual audit of the operations and finances of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program. This audit shall be provided to the Governor, General Assembly, and the Commission.
    (p) The suspension of grant making authority found in Section 4.2 of the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act shall not apply to grants made pursuant to this Section.
(Source: P.A. 98-533, eff. 8-23-13; 98-718, eff. 1-1-15; 99-143, eff. 7-27-15.)