Q&A – Are The Proposed Changes For Bright Futures, Bright Ideas?


Today’s entry: Heard the tolls discussion. Tyvm. Can you tackle the Bright Futures SB86 hubub?

Bottom Line: Without a doubt, Bright Futures has been the hottest button issue in this week’s state session. At issue are proposed changes by Republicans to the state funded college scholarship program.

The Bright Futures scholarship was created by the state legislature in 1997 in response to a similar initiative in Georgia called the Hope Scholarship. Funded by the Florida Lottery, Florida students graduating with a minimum GPA of 3.0, with 30 public service hours and meeting minimum scores on the SAT or ACT have been eligible provided the students attend an accredited Florida based post-secondary institution.

Now something you might have noticed is the significant improvement in Florida grade school outcomes. With a graduation rate which has risen from 58.8% in the 2005-2006 school year to 90% last year, along with Florida’s large population growth, and to a lesser extent tuition increases at Florida institutions, the strain on the program’s finances has meaningfully increased. For the first decade of the program, an average of 32,000 students received one of the Bright Futures Scholarships. Most recently that total has grown to over 118,000.

With the near tripling of eligible students under Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship program over the past decade, has come a series of financial challenges for the future funding of the program. With the growth in expenditures outstripping the growth of revenue by the Florida Lottery, a decision has to be made by the legislature on how to account for the shortfall. There are only two options which wouldn’t require a complete overhaul of the program. Divert additional lottery funding away from K-12 school education to support the Bright Futures Scholarships or change eligibility requirements and/or payouts.

The proposed changes by the Republicans in this year’s session are focused on the later. So, what are they?

The proposed legislation would task the Board of Governors to create a report identifying which fields of study at post-secondary institutions are most likely to lead to jobs upon graduation. Once identified, future scholarship awards would be issued on a sliding scale based upon a student’s chosen path of education relative to the future job prospects of that field of study. As you might imagine, many liberal arts educators are especially concerned, given the known challenges for future employment with many degree paths in that field.

The truth is no matter what changes are going to be made someone or some group is going to take exception to the changes. It’s not possible to make everyone happy. It’s up to you to decide the best path forward.

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.

Email:brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio

Photo by: Getty Images


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