Bright Futures bill no longer limits aid based on degree


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A controversial proposal that would affect students in the Bright Futures scholarship program has been rewritten so that they no longer have to be tied to the college program they want to pursue.

State Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Ocala) filed legislation that would have penalized students who didn’t pursue certain degrees. The bill would have established a list of college programs that are not likely to result in employment, and reduced funding for scholarship recipients who picked those majors.

“Who are we, honestly, to take someone’s choice in a career path and force them into a career based on what we will reimburse the tuition?” said State Senator Janet Cruz, who was among those opposed to the bill.

An online petition from those outraged by the bill had more than 125,000 as of Tuesday morning.

Baxley has since walked back on the proposal. In a letter to fellow senators, Baxley said he has rewritten the bill.

The new draft of the bill no longer penalizes students based on what they pursue for a degree.

According to Baxley’s letter, he has removed the following proposed changes:

  • The reduction of a Bright Futures or Benacquisto Scholarship award amount tied to
    student enrollment in a certificate or degree program on a list created by the BOG, SBE,
    or ICUF.
  • The reduction in the total number of credits in a Bright Futures award by die number of
    acceleration credits applied.
  • The provision relating to graduate study for Bright Futures award recipients tied to the
    certificate and degree list, which simply ret ins current law relating to graduate study.

It goes on to say that the proposed legislation includes the following:

  • A requirement that, as part of the state university procedures to release a hold on the
    student s registration after the first year, that the student affirmatively indicate that he or she has received required career information and indicates awareness of future employment and wage prospects based on his or her declared major.
  • Creation of an online dashboard for university graduate employment and education outcomes, and a requirement that a hold be placed on each student’s registration after the first year until the student has met specific conditions.
  • Requirement for the BOG, SBE, nd ICUF to establish lists of certificate and degrees programs that do not directly lead to employment.
  • Modification of Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) and the Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS) awards, which:
  • Adds additional alternative eligibility options relating to earning an associate degree through dual enrollment or an AP Capstone Diploma.
  • Changes the FAS and FMS award to as specified in the GAA.
  • Modification of the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to limit initial eligibility for non¬ resident students to the 2021-2022 academic year, and award as specified in the GAA.
  • Clarification that fee exemptions related to student in DCF care apply to students aged 18 and under.

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