Florida Bright Futures Scholarships Dimming

State lawmakers facing tough budget decisions have their eye on the popular bright futures scholarships. The program funds tuition costs for the majority of graduating high school seniors at state universities. Students could see a reduction 20 percent or more next fall.

On average, 88 of every 100 students enrolled in Florida’s eleven Universities have a Bright Futures scholarship. Many students, like Alanna Hammesfahr of Tampa, say they wouldn’t be in college if it wasn’t for Bright Futures.

Reporter: How will you get by with 20 percent less from Bright Futures?
Alanna Hammesfahr; “I’ll probably work more hours at work, which would not be fun.”

Bright Futures stopped paying full tuition two years ago for new students. For the brightest, it now pays $3750. That award could drop as low as $2900 as lawmakers trim the budget. The lower tied scholarships could drop from about 60 percent to as low as 40 percent of tuition.

Rashida Gayle of Ft. Lauderdale says she worked extra hard in high school to get Bright Futures. “You wanted to get the scholarship. That’s what you worked hard for all four years. You know, it’s a very popular program, so everybody knows that that is the one scholarship you’re guaranteed to get if you work hard in school.”

In the past, lawmakers have raised academic standards to try and save money. They’ve required students to take more hours. But never before have they cut the dollars going to bright futures. Critics say the merit based program gives cash to kids would have ended up in college anyway. “I would still be alright, but with a little less spending money for me.”

Some policymakers are now pushing to make the scholarships more needs based. One almost certainty of the 2011 Legislature is that change is coming to Bright Futures.

Lawmakers expect to cut the program up to 100 million dollars this session.

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  • by Amanda Location: Orlando on Aug 24, 2011 at 07:41 PM
    Unbelievable! These kids were told in high school that they would get 75% BF in letters of promise! They were so proud of their achievements! So where is all the lottery money going? I say boycott the Lottery!
  • by Barry on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:04 AM
    Bright Futures were the only "enhancement" for education to come from the States lottery. Time to consider a boycott of the Florida State Lottery. Less money for the porkchoppers to divy up.
  • by Oz Location: Central Florida on Mar 15, 2011 at 05:55 PM
    What really bugs me is that they want to only give BF to the "needy" students. There are so many programs out there for low income students it's mind boggling. I might not be "needy" but I have worked very hard for the Bright Futures. I'm tired of lower income people getting so much more than others. And they only have to have a 2.0 to qualify for a scholarship because they're "needy".
  • by Peter Location: volusia county fl on Mar 8, 2011 at 06:14 AM
    Pulling the rug out on kids is just wrong. Vote to cut and you won't get my vote at re-election time. That's what the lottery was for, and the state has been still diverting funds from the lottery for a long time now.
  • by SCOTT THINK BEFORE YOU CUT Location: FLORIDA on Mar 7, 2011 at 01:39 PM
    My BOTH of my sons have worked hard to earn bright futures scholarships because they are just that, the BRIGHT FUTURES of this state! I now have one attending college as a freshman and one about to graduate high school counting on that scholarship. If you cut the one thing they have counted on, WHERE WILL WE BE? I work very hard to make sure I can pay for their living expenses but have taught them if they work hard it pays off. What you are teaching them is government lies and gives to the poor that don't work!
  • by Frank Location: pc on Mar 7, 2011 at 12:36 PM
    So, what happens to the kids that have already started college and are counting on that money to pay for their education? What if, after the cuts, it's not enough for them to finish? These politicians seem to love to pull the rug out from under folks, don't they? They should grandfather in the kids that are already in college using the Bright Futures to pay their way.
    • reply
      by Amanda on Aug 24, 2011 at 07:42 PM in reply to Frank
      I totally agree, they should be grandfathered in!!
  • by me Location: PC on Mar 6, 2011 at 07:30 PM
    Face it, the gov't is doing the correct thing in cutting education. Do you really think they want people to KNOW how they are getting screwed over? The uneducated want to be told what to think, the educated want to think for themselves!
  • by Middle Class Parent Location: Panama City on Mar 6, 2011 at 02:11 PM
    After reading that Bright Futures may become "needs" based I lost it. I am tired of paying taxes to support people who live off the system. Why is it when someone works hard for something then it is taken away simply because a parent can afford to pay their bills? I am tired of paying, paying, paying for all others to attend school for free when I will possibly have to go and take loans out for my child to finish college. We don't qualify for free anything from the feds. They recommended we take loans out. Yeah, right--so I can pay for Obama's healthcare plan which I don't support or for someone else who didn't bother to save $$ for their child's education. Tighten the requirements via a GPA and/or service hours. My child logged in over 300 service hours. I hate to think of how many families we support annually. How ironic I pay for all others to go to school for free while I will have to take a loan out to support my own child.
  • by John Location: Fl. on Mar 6, 2011 at 09:48 AM
    If the lawmakers are so concerned about cutting money out of the budget, I have a suggestion. Why don't they start by cutting out all the money that is given to people that are too sorry to get out and support themselves and have raised generations of kids that look to you and me, the tax payers, to support them. I am all for helping the elderly that need help, but to those that only look for a hand out, cut that out. My daughter worked hard in High School and graduated with a 4.2 grade avg.and now in college because of the Bright Future program. No one studied for her. She did it her self and worked hard for her grades. Now the State wants to cut the one program that is not a waste of money and by its very name gave a Bright Future to a High School Graduate. I suppose she will have to start looking at student loans to finish out her college. Oh by the way where is all the lottery money at that was suppose to go to education?
  • by Anonymous on Mar 6, 2011 at 05:51 AM
    You know this state isn't the only state we can live in. I think it is time to rough it up and leave! I have to ask the same question Leona, all these cuts in education, but yet the lottery was originally suppose to be used for the schools. Hmmmm, we know it is not being used for teachers pay or for books, the classrooms aren't getting it, because here where I live I have to pay a fee for my daughter's to go to school and I have to buy at least 100 worth of supplies, including toilette paper a year for each child to go. So where is all that money? Dang sure isn't for maintaining the schools!
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