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Lights dim on Bright Futures

by John Kennedy | March 23rd, 2011

A House panel advanced a plan Wednesday that dims the lights on the state’s popular Bright Futures scholarship program — making the merit-based college aid harder to get and less lucrative for students and their parents.

As part of spending cuts coursing through most state programs, top tier Bright Futures recipients would have to earn a 1300 SAT score, up from 1280 now. Second-tier “medallion” students also would need a 1270 SAT, up from 1020 currently, under the House’s $5.7 billion college and university budget proposal.

Community service hours needed to qualify for the scholarships also would be bumped up, according to the House approach.

Bright Futures’ overall allocation would be cut 15 percent, or $33.8 million. With the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee also authorizing tuition hikes of as much as 15 percent, parents will be digging deeper for Florida college costs next fall.

Chair Marlene O’Toole, R-The Villages, acknowledged that trimming back Bright Futures would be another blow to many Floridians already struggling in a lousy economy.

“It’s a pretty rough economic time,” O’Toole said, pointing out the state is facing a budget shortfall of almost $3.8 billion. “It is what it is. It’s not like we went in and slashed and burned without reason. We didn’t have the dollars.”

Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature’s ruling Republicans have touted education as key to Florida’s economic turnaround. But budget proposals show schools, colleges and universities all absorbing big hits.

Among the House cuts reviewed Wednesday are reductions in such financial aid programs as the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) and ABLE Grants, which assist students going to private schools and for-profit colleges. State dollars to historically black colleges and universities also are slashed 23 percent, to $7.3 million.

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5 Responses to “Lights dim on Bright Futures”

  1. don't vote for any of them Says:

    very sad, what are all these young graduate going to do, they can’t afford college, there are not enough jobs out there, we have one of the highest unemployment rate in the country, one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. There will be no middle class, and not much money left for unemployment and food stamps.

  2. Deborah Says:

    Where can I find a list of those whom have received the scholarship?
    My son is attending UCF next year. He just came to me with the following list of fees…
    Application $250
    Orientation $100
    Enrollment $200

    He is still a senior and also has other things coming up
    Grad Bash $250
    Senior Week $85
    Cap and gown $85
    Prom $200

    I am unemployed and have already cashed in investments, savings bonds etc…

    How are others coping? I do own my home and car but can’t get a loan without a job.

    Any suggestions/advice?

  3. OnTheOtherHand Says:

    This should have been front page.

  4. Barry Says:

    Bright Futures Scholarships were the only true “enhancement” to education, to come from the Florida Lottery. Time to boycott Floridas lottery. Less money for the PORKCHOPPERS.

  5. K Says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I’m about to enter my junior year of college and without bright futures I would never have been able to attend. I worked so hard in high school to be the first in my family to continue on the college. Bright Futures is the only reason many students like me aren’t flipping burgers for the rest of our lives. More community service hours seriously? I worked, played a sport, was in student government and NHS just so I would be admitted to college and you expect me to do more than the 75 hours you require now of community service. Is that logical?! Absolutely not. I wish for one day Rick Scott could but himself into a high school/college students shoes and see how difficult life really is. I’m just trying to make better for myself, and you’re trying to take it away? You’re really making Florida a better state…not.

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