Apr 13, 2021 - News

Bill that would change scholarship funding moves to Florida House

The Florida State Capitol building

Florida lawmakers are considering changes to a state scholarship program. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

After passing in the Senate last week, a bill that could put Florida’s state-funded Bright Futures scholarship program at risk is now headed to the House.

What’s happening: SB 86 would change how the program is funded — which opponents say could jeopardize the scholarships — and discourage recipients from certain majors.

Details: The bill would require that schools place a student’s account on hold until they receive career readiness training and say they understand the financial implications of their career choice.

  • A previous version of the bill would have required the Board of Governors and State Board of Education to publish a list of majors that'd make students ineligible for the scholarship.
  • That was cut after backlash, but it still calls on the Board of Governors to publish salary and student loan data on different degrees.

What they’re saying: Daisy Perez, a USF freshman majoring in environment science and policy on a Bright Futures scholarship called the proposed changes "awful."

  • "I hope that we as a community can come together to help students realize their potential in the workforce, no matter what that work looks like," she told Axios.

The other side: The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) has said the bill’s intention is to make sure students have a career after college and maximize dollars spent on education.

"Each student should be encouraged to pursue their passion, but if there are degrees that we know do not lead to jobs, we have an obligation to let the student know as they begin to choose their educational path."
Baxley to Florida Politics

By the numbers: In 2019, 111,973 students received Bright Futures scholarships, totaling $618.6 million, WWSB reports.

If passed by the House, the bill would take effect July 1.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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