Senate subcommittee sends amended student financial aid bill closer to Senate


Florida state senators introduced a student financial aid bill on Tuesday after removing most of its controversial aspects.

The law project, SB 86, initially included a proposal to limit Bright Futures funding for students whose majors did not “lead directly to employment” and the number of college credits they earned in high school. Senator Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who sponsored the bill, tabled the amendment on Monday after his previous version received significant backlash.

The Florida Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education first passed the amendment and then moved the bill forward with a 6: 3 vote.

The amendment adds a requirement for students to confirm that they have received career information from their university’s career center and are aware of future employment and salary opportunities based on their major. In addition, the bill now states that Bright Futures rewards will be “equal to the amount specified in the General appropriation law, which determines the state budget each year.

The Bright Futures Scholarship Program was founded in 1997 and is primarily funded by the Florida Lottery.

This part of Baxley’s amendment removed the reference to guaranteed tuition amounts for students under Bright Futures, which concerned some senators at the meeting. The bill previously provided that Florida Academic Scholars would receive an amount “needed to pay 100% of tuition and fees,” while Bright Futures would cover 75% of those for Florida Medallion Scholars.

The change is intended to prevent would-be lawmakers from being restricted in potential circumstances such as recessions or periods of growth, Baxley said at Tuesday’s meeting. The senator said the bill was not intended to cut funding for the Bright Futures program.

At the Florida Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education meeting, Senator Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, said no cuts will be made to the Bright Futures Futures program during the budget review education proposed for 2021-2022.

The bill will still require the creation of an online dashboard with information on student education options and future employment opportunities. While this will not affect student scholarships, the Board of Governors, State Board of Education, and independent colleges and universities in Florida will always publish a list of programs that “do not lead directly to employment. “, according to Invoice.

The bill states that the list must be created by December 31, 2021, if passed. It is not known which programs will be included on the list.

Two amendments to the Baxley Amendment failed during the meeting. The first, proposed by Senator Tina Polksy, D-Boca Raton, added lines specifically stating that the list of programs cannot be used to determine student scholarship amounts. Another amendment from Senator Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, sought to keep the tuition percentages of 100% and 75% in the bill.

During the debate on the bill, Cruz said that the amendment improved the bill, but that they were still not going in the right direction. She asked those present if the bill was really about workforce development and preparing future generations for employment. Cruz pointed out that the proposed changes to the Bright Futures program came after a high number of students received the scholarship last year.

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Despite the changes, students and parents still plan to protest the bill. At UF, students expression Bill March 26 at West University Avenue and Northwest 13th Street. The demonstration starts at 5 p.m. Students will protest the removal of the bill’s tuition coverage requirements.

Aleidys Lopez, a sophomore student in sustainability and feminist studies at UF, said she might not have been able to attend college without Bright Futures. Coming from a single-parent family, Lopez said she had to pay for her college education on her own, and Bright Futures is the reason she can. the high SAT score This requirement is already discriminatory against people who cannot afford guardians, she said.

She does not mind that the bill requires students to be informed of employment opportunities; However, it looks completely different from its original version, she said. Lopez is concerned that a restriction for the majors may still be infiltrated, she said.

“But for me, I just don’t see the purpose behind the bill at this point,” Lopez said. “And I just think that in general the whole bill was very oppressive towards minorities.”

Karina Bravo, a 20-year-old second-year political science and international studies student at UF, said she and her friends were dependent on Bright Futures. The scholarship program frees students from having to worry about their future debts, which benefits everyone in society, she said.

Bravo said she was happy the backlash against the bill was big enough that parts of it would be reconsidered.

“I think it just shows the power of public opinion and that your voice matters,” she said. “They are our representatives, and they will listen to us if we are strong enough.”

Contact Juliana Ferrie at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ juliana_f616.

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Juliana Ferrie

Juliana Ferrie is a second year journalism student at UF. She is thrilled to be working for The Alligator as a Santa Fe Beat reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading or listening to music.