Article 4 - Board of Optometric Scholarship Awards

§ 34-22-60 - Board created; composition, terms of office.

There is hereby created and established the board of optometric scholarship awards which shall be authorized and required to establish scholarships to provide for and further optometric training in pursuance of an optometric degree, of qualified applicants for admission to the University of Alabama school of optometry. The board shall be composed of one optometrist from six components of the component societies of Alabama optometric association whose terms of office shall be staggered, (A) two optometrists being elected for a term of two years; (B) two optometrists being elected for a term of three years; (C) two optometrists being elected for a term of four years, with each successor to the aforesaid optometrists to be elected for a term of four years; (D) the secretary of the Alabama optometric association or his appointee who shall serve as chairman of the board; (E) the dean of the University of Alabama school of optometry or his designee; (F) the chairman of the University of Alabama school of optometry admissions committee; and (G) two community representatives to be appointed by the governor of the state of Alabama.

§ 34-22-61 - Powers and duties of board.

The board of optometric scholarship awards shall have power and authority to make reasonable rules and regulations not inconsistent with the laws of this state, as may be necessary for the regulation of its proceedings and for the discharge of the duties imposed upon it. Said board shall receive and review all applications for scholarship loans and awards; shall make a careful and thorough investigation of the ability and character and qualifications of each applicant; and shall be responsible for the further administration of the scholarship program subject to the provisions of this article.

§ 34-22-62 - Types of scholarships.

The board shall establish two types of scholarships as follows:

A number of loans equal to 20 percent of the number of students enrolled in the University of Alabama school of optometry based on the economic need and scholastic ability of the applicant, in an amount not to exceed $3,000.00 per annum or $12,000.00 over a four year period, shall be available to any bona fide resident of Alabama of good character who has been accepted for matriculation by the University of Alabama school of optometry. This section shall also apply to graduate students in physiological optics, at the discretion of the board.

A number of nonrefundable merit scholarship awards equal in number to five percent of the number of students enrolled in the University of Alabama school of optometry in an amount not to exceed $3,000.00 per annum or $12,000.00 over a four year period, shall be available to outstanding students, one-fourth of which shall be awarded each year to members of the entering class at the University of Alabama school of optometry, who, in the judgment of the board, have the highest scholastic achievement in undergraduate studies, sufficient aptitude, excellence of character, and other pertinent qualifications.

§ 34-22-63 - Repayment of loans; service contracts.

(a) Scholarships extended under section 34-22-62(1) shall be repaid following graduation, either in cash as is provided under subsection (b) of this section or under terms of a contract to serve in a needy area in Alabama for a term to be specified by the board as provided in subsection (c) of this section. Any moneys received from recipients in repayment of a scholarship loan under subsections (b) and (c) of this section shall upon receipt thereof be remitted by the board of optometric scholarship awards to the treasurer of the state of Alabama for credit to the special educational trust fund.

(b) Scholarship loans to be repaid under this subsection shall be repaid to the board of optometric scholarship awards in full at an interest rate of six percent per annum from the date of graduation from optometry school, and payments are to be made annually, the first of which is due one year after the recipient enters the practice of optometry or one year after completion of residency training, whichever occurs first. Repayment in full must be completed within eight years from initiation of repayment. Any recipient who fails for any reason to continue his optometric education shall repay all loan amounts in accordance with terms and conditions established by the board of optometric scholarship awards, provided that interest rate on such unpaid loan amounts shall be fixed at six percent per annum from the date of his/her departure from optometry school.

(c) Scholarship loans to be repaid under this subsection shall be repaid by service in one of the following ways, subject to approval by the board of optometric scholarship awards, and considering the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare designated optometric manpower shortage areas as one means of determination:

Practice for a four-year period in a community of less than 5,000 population which has been deemed to be critically in need of additional optometric practitioners.

Practice for a five-year period in a community of more than 5,000 population and less than 15,000 population which has been deemed to be critically in need of additional optometric practitioners.

Practice for a five-year period in a community of more than 15,000 but less than 100,000 population and repayment of one-half the loan plus six percent simple interest annually in five annual payments, beginning at the end of the first year of practice.

Practice for four years in position in Alabama in public health or as an optometrist in any state institution approved by the board of optometric scholarship awards.

For loans of less than four years of study, service repayment may be prorated on the basis of one-fourth of the above requirements for each $3,000.00 loan.

§ 34-22-64 - Contractual agreement of recipients; penalties for breach; institution of legal proceedings.

Each recipient of a scholarship loan under the provisions of this article shall enter into a contract with the board of optometric scholarship awards whereby he/she agrees to repay the scholarship loan in a manner prescribed by the board not inconsistent with any provisions of this article. Breach of contract by the recipient shall make him/her immediately liable for the unpaid balance of the loan and shall constitute a ground for the revocation of his/her certificate or license to practice optometry in the state of Alabama. In the event of death or total and permanent disability of the recipient to engage in the practice of optometry, repayment of the loan may be excused by the board. The attorney general of Alabama, upon request of the board of optometric scholarship awards, shall institute proceedings in the name of the state for the purpose of recovering any amount due the state under the provisions of this article. The proceedings to have such optometrists'certificate or license revoked shall be commenced upon the written complaint of the board of optometric scholarship awards to the state board of optometric examiners. The proceedings shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Alabama law pertaining to the revocation of licenses to practice optometry.

§ 34-22-65 - Localities in need of optometrists.

Any incorporated municipality or locality in the state having a population of less than 100,000 desiring additional optometrists and wishing to be designated as a locality needing additional optometrists, may apply to the board of optometric scholarship awards to be placed on a list of localities in need of additional optometrists, which list shall be maintained by the board. Such application may be either by the municipal governing body or by a petition signed by at least one-twentieth of the qualified electors of the municipality or locality. If the board of optometric scholarship awards determines that such locality is in need of optometrists, it shall place the locality on the list of localities in need of optometrists from which recipients of scholarship awards may upon graduation select an area in which to practice. In compiling and maintaining the list, the board may place any locality thereon which in its opinion needs additional optometrists.