The days of Bright Futures acting as a blanket payment for students have come to an end. During the year, the requirements have again been altered. Governor Charlie Crist recently signed a bill that has caused many to question their future.
Bright Futures is the state funded financial aid program that allows Florida students to receive scholarships to pay for a percentage of college expenses. Students have to meet certain requirements in order to receive these scholarships.
There are three types of scholarships: the Florida Medallion Scholars Award, Florida Academic Scholars Award, Academic Top Scholars and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars award. Standards have recently risen for high school students and college students.
The tougher standards will cause a push to raise SAT score requirements over the next four years. According to the Florida student financial aid website, high school students currently have to score in the 44th percentile on the SAT or ACT to qualify for a partial Bright Futures Scholarship. By 2014, it is predicted that the minimum requirement will be a score in the 56th percentile.
According to Brenda Johnson, a Bright Futures representative, students will also receive $1 less per credit hour; on average, recipients of this award receive $2500 a year towards their tuition. It will also only cover classes needed to graduate. Another drawback of the new legislation is that it will only cover school for five years instead of seven.
The reason for the big budget cuts in scholarship money is that colleges across Florida are finding a decrease rate in students failing college level classes. Students are failing and the government is giving out additional money they do not currently have.
These changes are currently hitting students at Florida A&M hard.
Rene Price a third year pharmacy student from Compton, Cali. is just one of the students that have been drastically affected by these new changes.
“After working very hard to maintain a 3.0 GPA since my freshman year [of high school], it has been a waste of time because I currently find myself taking out loan after loan to pay for my tuition,” she said.
The current requirement for maintaining a Bright Futures scholarship has been raised to a 3.5; this does not include an un-weighted GPA.
Jasmine Clark a second year photography student from Palm Beach said she must now take out more loans to pay for school.
“This is going to put me in major debt in the future,” said Clark.