Opinion of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Florida Voices
Published: April 18, 2013
Updated: April 18, 2013 at 12:41 PM
The future of Bright Futures isn't all that bright. Tough new standards will keep significantly more high school graduates from obtaining the state's merit-based scholarship. It's almost as if to save Bright Futures, state leaders are going out of their way to destroy it, especially for minority and low-income students. Beginning July 1, expect a big drop-off in the number of high school graduates being awarded a Bright Futures scholarship to attend a state university or community college. Because of a legislative effort to rein in costs, the number of recipients will be cut in half, according to an analysis by the University of South Florida. The USF analysis says the two flagship universities — the University of Florida and Florida State University — will continue to receive the lion's share of the scholarship monies. More than half of their high-performing students will receive Bright Futures. It would be a different story at other schools, like Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University, where more students depend on financial assistance — and only one in four will now qualify for Bright Futures. Remember, many Florida universities have been raising tuition 15 percent per year in recent years, putting the cost of a college education out of sight for many low- and middle-income families.
Gov. Rick Scott says that in leading our state, he keeps two priorities paramount: our economy and the education of our children. So we encourage the governor to use his influence to make this year's changes less jarring, even as the state continues to raise the standards for Bright Futures. Because in pulling the plug on a promise offered to better-than-average graduates who've been working hard all these years, Florida is about to leave too many children behind.