By Amy Enberg
As Florida Senate Bill 86 was discussed in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education on Mar. 23, students across Florida advocated against the limitations the bill would impose on Bright Futures funding. Their voices were heard.
Legislators have removed clauses that would limit funding for students from majors that were determined to not lead directly to careers, as well as capping the maximum credit hours Bright Futures would pay for after AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment credit is applied.
The new version of the bill, as passed by the Appropriations Committee, has been placed on the Senate special order calendar for Apr. 7. It essentially emphasizes the role that colleges and universities have in the career readiness of students, requiring that institutions provide lists of those majors determined to not lead to careers, as well as establishing databases of career prospects.
While the initial concerns with the bill have been addressed, the fact that the bill was introduced in the first place has caused many students to reflect on the importance of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.
After hearing that those clauses were removed, a student who wishes to remain anonymous commented that they felt, “Very relieved! It would have been unimaginable for students to not have access to Bright Futures just because of what they wish to study.”
As of Apr. 6, an upwards of 130,000 people had signed a petition to save Bright Futures from those limitations.
In a summary of the amendment filed by Senator Baxley, he notes that his “goal in filing Senate Bill 86 was to begin the discussion about both the cost and the value of the degrees and programs within our higher education system. Based on your feedback, and with that goal in mind, I have filed an amendment that represents a concrete step forward in this discussion, while at the same time preserving the merit-based financial aid benefits our students earned in high school, regardless of which undergraduate path the student chooses.”
For now, the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship is safe, thanks to the diligence of countless students and educators who advocated for the hundreds of thousands of students that have, and will, benefit from the program.
Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Compass