The Senate Committee on Postsecondary Education on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill introducing the GATE Program, providing educational and financial support for students aged 16-21 without standard high school diplomas to pursue postsecondary and vocational training.
The Senate Committee on Postsecondary Education unanimously approved legislation on Tuesday that proposes new educational pathways for students who dropped out of high school before graduation.
The bill introduces the Graduation Alternative to Traditional Education (GATE) Program, a GATE scholarship program, and an incentive fund.
The GATE Program’s main objective is to enable students aged 16 to 21, who have not obtained a standard high school diploma, to earn postsecondary course credits without financial burden. It combines adult secondary education with career education, focusing on both academic and vocational training.
Eligibility for the GATE program requires students to be Florida residents without a standard high school diploma or an equivalent. Students must be concurrently enrolled in both an adult secondary education program and a career education program, which can be at a college, career center, or charter technical career center.
“Everyone has gifts and talents to contribute to their community,” said bill sponsor Sen. Erin Grall, who chairs the committee. “The GATE program provides students who have left high school before graduation the opportunity to access high-quality workforce education programs that lead to good jobs.”
The measure also proposes the establishment of a GATE Scholarship Program, overseen by the Department of Education that would cover tuition, fees, and instructional materials for students enrolled in the GATE Program. If adopted, funding for the scholarship program would be contingent on the state’s annual budget.
The bill would further establish the GATE Program Student Success Incentive Fund, which financially compensates institutions based on student achievements in the GATE Program, specifically for obtaining high school diplomas or industry certifications. The proposed incentive amounts are $750 per diploma and $1,000 per certification.