Concerns remain over Florida Bright Futures changes

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 4:46 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - Parents and the recipients of Bright Futures Scholarships sent thousands of emails to lawmakers opposing changes to the popular merit-based program.

As a result, the legislation has been watered down, but some are still concerned about the program’s long-term future.

State lawmaker’s email boxes are blowing up over possible changes to bright futures.

“I don’t think I’ve received more emails than received on this subject,” said State Senator Janet Cruz.

A survey conducted by Cruz found 98 percent knew someone who benefited from Bright Futures.

Another 56 percent said they or someone they know could not have gone to college without the scholarship.

“People love this scholarship,” said Cruz.

Sponsor Dennis Baxley has been taking the brunt of the criticism.

“Well, I think they were a big part of where we are winding up,” said Baxley, who is sponsoring the bill aiming to alter the program.

The concerns forced significant changes.

Scholarships won’t be withheld no matter what course you are taking, but students will have to get career counseling about their choices.

“We have a significant number of college graduates that can’t get hired,” said Baxley.

Amendments were voted down that would have guaranteed funding for recipients already in school.

“There’s a lot of concern about the funding,” said Senator Tina Polsky.

Alison Roush came to Florida State after turning down full rides at two out-of-state schools.

Now she is worried.

“In the next few years there is a potential for the money for my scholarship to be reduced,” said Roush. “I think it would leave me with a portion of the money.”

In the end, the legislation was approved.

Janet Cruz worries GOP supporters are trying to steer students to some courses.

“Students will have to sign they understand what career paths pay well, and what career paths perhaps don’t pay as well,” said Cruz.

The conversation about Bright Futures is far from over.

Concerns will likely require more changes, and the House is using a carrot instead of a stick to get students to go into careers in demand.

Florida is spending $618 million on Bright Futures this year.

All funds come from lottery revenue.

RELATED STORIES: State Sen. Dennis Baxley withdraws controversial financial aid bill, introduces substitute bill

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