(a) There shall be a special commission to investigate and study the need to incentivize the commonwealth's college scholarship system. The commission shall consist of: the speaker of the house of representatives, or a designee thereof; the president of the senate, or a designee thereof; the minority leader of the house of representative, or a designee thereof; the minority leader of the senate, or a designee thereof; the house chair of the joint committee on higher education, or a designee thereof; the senate chair of the joint committee on higher education, or a designee thereof; the secretary of education, or a designee thereof; the commissioner of higher education, or a designee thereof; the executive director of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, or a designee thereof; and 6 persons appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be a representative from the University of Massachusetts; 1 of whom shall be a representative from the commonwealth's universities; 1 of whom shall be a representative from the commonwealth's community colleges; 1 of whom shall be a representative from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts; 1 of whom shall be a representative from the Massachusetts Bankers Association; and 1 of whom shall be a representative from Families United in Educational Leadership.
(b) The special commission shall make an investigation and study of the scholarship programs that provide financial assistance to Massachusetts students enrolled in, or pursuing, a program of higher education at any approved public or independent college, university, school of nursing or any other approved institution furnishing a program of higher education and shall focus on students with little or no family history of college attendance. The study shall examine methods that have been used in the commonwealth and other states to better prepare such students for college. The study shall include, but not be limited to, the examination of voluntary college savings programs focused on the needs of such families; the possible use of federally matched independent development accounts; the impact of committing scholarship funds to students prior to the twelfth grade; the need for a pilot program for ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade students in up to 5 public school districts to encourage family engagement and student academic achievement through the use of scholarships, in conjunction with family savings for college; and potential additional funding sources for a college savings matching program with priority placed on financial matches that have no additional cost to the commonwealth.
(c) The commission shall submit the results of its investigation and study and its recommendations, if any, with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives who shall forward the same to the joint committee on higher education and the senate and house committees on ways and means not later than December 31, 2012.