ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
The Florida House and Senate are again proposing big cuts to the Bright Futures College Scholarship program, once again, because fewer students will qualify. After spending $309 million last year on the program, this year the Florida House has just $266 million in its budget to provide Florida's top performing students with scholarships for in-state schools.
Rich Sloane, from the University of Central Florida College of Education, wonders what the long term impact will be.
"Raising standards is a good thing. You know, all ships rise with the tide. At the same time, we've got to understand that a lot of people won't be able to take advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be available to them."
The new standards will rise to a 1290 SAT score and/or a 29 on the ACT. Sloane bemoans the fact that the number of Bright Future scholarship winners is dropping so quickly in the state.
"I think it is somewhat a shame that about half of number of students that were previously eligible for a Bright Futures Scholarship will not have that eligibility as move into the future."
One major benefit of Bright Futures has been keeping the best and brightest in the state of Florida. Sloane says one of the students at UCF for engineering was accepted at MIT and was trying to pick between the two schools.
"The deal maker really was Bright Futures because it was going to allow him to do two things, attend college and finish less or no debt, number one, and number it was going to allow him to stay in Florida."
One of the remedies could be means testing students. If their parents made too much money, they would not qualify for the scholarship. Sloane says it is an idea worth exploring.
"When I pay my income tax, because I am in a certain bracket I'm even paying a larger percentage than other people. I believe in that. I'm ready to do that."
Since Bright Futures has increased its testing standards, many minority students have suffered. Students in lower income areas have consistently scored lower on standardized testing than their counterparts that come from wealthier neighborhoods.