TALLAHASSEE-- Tougher scholastic requirements are keeping thousands of high school graduates from receiving Bright Futures scholarships.
At its peak in 2008, Bright Futures was costing the state $429 million with average awards of $2,500.
At the height of the recession in 2011, lawmakers raised test score and GPA requirements, cutting a hundred million dollars.
The average award dropped to just over $1,900.
In a web only ad, Democrats are criticizing Rick Scott for the cuts.
In Gainesville for a campaign event, Governor Rick Scott responded, sort of.
"Bright Futures is a great program. As you know we have historic funding, this year, for K-12 State Colleges, for universities. We've got a lot of projects around universities. I want to continue to fund Bright Futures," Scott said.
Higher standards from 2011 kick in this fall.
With the higher requirements, 26 thousand fewer students are expected to walk through that classroom door with a Bright Futures Scholarship. That's expected to save the state just over $50 million.
We met Toni Morse on the FSU campus as she was waiting for her daughter, who is an incoming freshman. Her daughter has the lower tier Bright Futures.
But Toni worries her tenth grade son will be shut out.
"As a parent, and you still have someone at home, what do you think?"
"Well, I'm definitely a little nervous for him. I think that his opportunities are not going to be as open as they are for her, and even for her they've definitely decreased over what I've seen in the last few years," Toni said.
And as thousands of incoming freshmen are touring college campuses across the state, thousands more will be staying home, wondering how bright their future may be.
This fall first time Bright Futures recipients must have an ACT score of at least 26 for the minimum award. That's up from a 22 last fall.