Florida Bright Futures Funding Goes Down, As Requirements Go Up
Published April 20th, 2014
GAINESVILLE - In a big college town like Gainesville... For students, making the cut matters. Academic standards for the Florida Bright Futures scholarship program will rise this fall and the program is also expecting cut backs.
The funding for Bright Futures continues to decline. This scholarship program is funded by the Florida Lottery. And it covers student's tuitions based on GPA, standardized test scores and community service.
The scores for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT required to qualify for Florida Bright Futures keep going up. And as the scores go up, the money towards the program is going down. According to the Florida College Access Network or Florida CAN, back in its peak years, Bright Futures spent more than $400 million a year on students in 2008 and 2009. Yet, this academic year Bright Futures' budget was $300 million. And now Florida CAN is projecting that by 2017, it will be reduced to $180 million.
"The fact that they're cutting back and they're trying to raise the scores basically it's like a lot of people can't afford it already so it's a bigger debt on the people who can't afford it already," Kamal Cuff a University of Florida student said.
Jessica Phillipe a UF student said, "And I am like how-- why do I have to get these high scores and you're not even giving me enough money." She said this worries her. "I don't even get a lot of money now. Most of the money that I get for this school year, doesn't come from bright futures it comes from other sources," Phillipe added.
Celeste Sheets, who graduated as the salutatorian of her high school class and qualifies for Bright Future's top award, says even then, that's not enough. "Well since I am a freshman, I just recently got the highest bright future scholarship but it's not 100 percent like it used to be, like I heard it was. So I wasn't very happy about that," Sheets said.
Sheets, however, doesn't mind the requirements getting tougher as long as they do allocate more money to those on the top. "I think that, that is okay but if that does happen like it's been happening every year that the higher up kids should be paid more than they are being paid now," Sheets said.
Manuel Estopinan another UF student agrees, "A competition grows there's only one way to really weed out the people who deserve the scholarship and who don't."
Sarah Massey and her friend Kelly Hartzell, both UF students say they don't mind working a little harder to earn the merit based scholarship. "You know to give students more of a competitive edge, more of a motivation to really work for that scholarship... Because it's a very considerable amount," Massey said.
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