Is Your Bright Future in Jeopardy?


David Rudd, Editor

The Bright Futures scholarship program is considered one of the greatest aspects of the Florida school system. With a reasonable set of guidelines students can receive 75 or even 100% off their tuition at a state university. The guidelines include a minimum weighted GPA, SAT/ACT score, and community service hours. This scholarship helps put thousands of Florida students through college, who may not have gotten the opportunity otherwise. 

Recently, State Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala introduced State Bill 86. If this bill passes, students in certain majors will not be eligible for the Bright Futures scholarship. Currently, those majors are defined as those that “do not lead to jobs.”

This bill has faced immediate backlash from parents, teachers, and others. The main argument against this bill revolves around the importance of education. Education shouldn’t just be a precursor to jobs. The value of education includes general knowledge, problem solving skills, and individual growth.

Education should not just be an assembly line to employment. Education should allow students to learn, broaden their horizons, and pursue their dreams. Suggesting the government should only help out those whose career goals fit into a rigid box will ultimately harm the economy of future generations.

Florida is a state built on the arts. In Key West, Miami, and communities around the state, local economies prosper because of their commitment to art. While STEM degrees are extremely important, art degrees are crucial as well. The state’s largest money maker is tourism. Tourists aren’t attracted to us because of engineers or scientists, but because of the state’s unique and creative artists.

State Bill 86 would discourage growth in Florida’s diverse economy. Dennis Baxley, the writer of the bill, said, “This list of approved and cleared majors would go through review by the BOG (Board of Governors) and the DOE (Department of Education) and they would be responsible for clearing through those.” The representative defended his bill by stating, “Almost all of us knows somebody, or maybe a few people that went through college, completed their degree, sometimes at great cost and only to find out that there was really no hirable place for them that they fit in,” “There should be some way we could use the influence of this financial aid to draw a greater relevance between our educational format and the career opportunities.”

In recent days, State Bill 86 has faced tremendous backlash from students, parents, and teachers. Due to this, the bill has stalled. Just a day before it’s first scheduled hearing, Baxley pulled the bill from consideration, stating he is aware of concerns and would like to hear more opinions on the issue first.

Regardless of what happens to the bill in the upcoming days and weeks, threats to Bright Futures will continue to arise. Recently, the minimum SAT requirement was changed a pretty significant amount from a 1260 to a 1330. Bright Futures is worth protecting. It puts many students through college without stranding them with a lifetime full of debt. Furthermore, it encourages students to do well in high school, and makes students more likely to go to a state college. Sen. Baxley’s bill is just one of many that can put Florida’s widely popular scholarship in jeopardy.