Florida Republicans Propose Changes to Bright Futures and Student Financial Aid

Legislation tabled by an Ocala state senator would make major changes to state financial aid for students, requiring grants to be reassessed every semester and limiting funding for some majors.

SB 86, filed by Republican Senator Dennis Baxley, would require eligibility for state financial aid and tuition assistance to be reviewed quarterly and based on the student’s course of study.

Under the bill, the state’s Board of Governors and Board of Education are each expected to approve a list of career certificates, undergraduate and graduate programs “which they believe lead directly to to work “. These lists should be updated annually, according to Baxley’s Bill. Students whose majors are not on the list would receive less funding from the Bright Futures scholarship.

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Jocelyn Meyer, senior at Rockledge High School, said many students were talking about the new legislation that has been tabled.

“I felt personally attacked because my degree probably wouldn’t fall under that,” Meyer said.

Meyer said she wanted to major in geography or international studies. Then continue to the upper school.

“Potentially work for the Peace Corps. It would give me the experience of working for a non-governmental health organization like the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control, ”Meyer said.

Meyer is worried that the lead she planned for college will not be paid off, even though she has worked hard to meet all the criteria for a full Bright Futures scholarship. The funding she depends on to complete her college education.

“It would be overwhelming to have to re-evaluate if this is something that I’m really passionate about or if I’m willing to give up just to have a paid education,” Meyer said.

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“We want all of our students to succeed in meaningful careers that support their families and serve our communities. As taxpayers, we should all be concerned about subsidizing degrees that only go into debt, instead of the jobs our students want and need. We encourage all students to pursue their passions, but when it comes to taxpayer subsidized education, there has to be a connection to our economy, and that is the goal of this legislation, ”Baxley said in a statement. communicated. “We also want to make it easier for returning students who have not completed high school to access certification programs at our colleges and career centers. Dropping out of high school as a teen shouldn’t be a permanent barrier to a good job.

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The bill specifically targets the Bright Futures Scholarship, Florida University Fellows, and Florida Medallion Scholars.

Bright Futures students are currently eligible for 100% or 75% of the tuition fee, but under this bill it would depend on their course of study.

Florida Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani said Bright Futures made cuts when she was in college, putting her and other financially strapped students in a difficult position to find funding elsewhere or to give up.

“I went to UCF on Bright Futures and I wouldn’t be here today without it,” Eskamani said. “We need to protect and enhance Bright Futures, not cut it.”

Along with the changes to Bright Futures, the proposal would also create two new financial aid programs.

The Florida Bright Opportunities Grants Program would benefit students eligible for the Pell Grant in a certificate or associate’s degree program who still owe tuition at Florida colleges or career centers after all other federal aid. have been applied. This grant would cover tuition and fees, as well as a book allowance.

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The Florida Endeavor Scholarship would benefit students without a high school diploma who wish to enroll in a high school certificate or equivalency program. To qualify, these students would need to earn 225 block hours with a GPA of 2.5.

If approved, the legislation would impact students from the 2022-2023 academic year.

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