Bright Futures risks dimming

Senator proposes a bill that would change the Bright Futures program

University+of+Florida+merch+in+alumni+teacher+Manuel+Montero%27s+room.

Photo Ella Wertz

University of Florida merch in alumni teacher Manuel Montero’s room.

Ella Wertz, News and Features Editor

For many students, the Bright Futures Scholarship Program is a reliable financial resource, often encouraging instate attendance to Florida public universities.

“Bright Futures is great. My family relies on it for financial support and it has given me the opportunity to attend University of Florida essentially for free,” Rachel Steinfeld (’21), prospective UF freshman, said. “I’m not completely sure how this new bill, if passed, would affect me, but I know that many students, other than me, rely heavily on Bright Futures and giving less financial support would be detrimental to student’s college futures.”

On Feb. 23 Senator Dennis Baxley, a Republican representative for Ocala, filed Bill 86 which plans to redesign the scholarship program. This bill was officially introduced to the Senate on March 2.

Initially, Bill 86 recommended that a student’s major will determine the amount of allocated aid. Under the bill, the Board of Governors and State Board of Education will compile a list of these majors that will be updated yearly.

Students who intend on getting a degree listed, like nursing, would receive aid for the full 120 hours of credit hours, which is the characteristic amount of credit hours required to obtain a bachelor’s degree. However, students that selected to study topics beyond this list would only receive a maximum of aid for 60 credit hours.

Bill 86 also suggests reducing financial aid for students who took Advanced Placement (AP) courses, were members of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, or involved in a dual enrollment program. Student scholarships would be cut based on the amount of college credits earned prior to their freshman year in college.

The bill further stated that two grant programs would be added: the Florida Bright Opportunities Grant Program and the Florida Endeavor Scholarship. The Florida Bright Opportunities Grant Program aims to provide additional aid to students eligible for the Pell Grant. The Florida Endeavor Scholarship would supply financial support for students who had not graduated from high school and wanted the opportunity to get their GED at a college or career center.

On Monday, revisions were published by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. These revisions amended the list of undergraduate and graduate degrees to no longer determine the amount of aid received. However, the list would act as an advisory to help prospective students select a career-oriented major.

The section regarding reducing aid based upon the amount of college credit received in high school through various classes and programs was removed.

Tomorrow, March 24, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will further discuss Bill 86. If approved, Bill 86’s amendments to the Bright Futures Scholarship program will be enacted in 2022-23.