Florida Bright Futures Scholarship in jeopardy again - WFLA News Channel 8

Florida Bright Futures Scholarship in jeopardy again

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TALLAHASSEE, FL -

Florida lawmakers may look to the Bright Futures Scholarship Program to save the state money.

TaxWatch, an influential tax group, is recommending several options to scale back Bright Futures. The primary recommendation from TaxWatch involves limiting the scholarship to the top 10 percent of students in a school saving the state $55 million.

Many students like Wesley Mellone, a Junior at Florida State University, credits the Bright Futures Scholarship program for securing his financial future by allowing him to graduate without any loans.

Mellone says, "Bright Futures and a combination of other scholarships pay my tuition completely."

Bright Futures peaked in 2008 when the state awarded $429 million worth of scholarships. Today the cost to the state has been scaled back to $316 million.

Rob Weissert of TaxWatch says, "It will help us achieve diversity within the state university system. It'll help achieve predictability with the cost going forward because based on how many students we have in twelfth grade we know a certain percentage will be eligible for Bright Futures."

The TaxWatch recommendation is drawing the ire of House Democrats, long time opponents of any cuts to the popular scholarship program.

Democrat Rep. Gwen Clarke-Reed of Fort Lauderdale says, "If we continue to cut back the funds they don't have the moneys to pay for the courses to go to school."

Despite the recent run on the program, this year there's a budget surplus which means the scholarship money may remain untouched.

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