Bright Futures Cuts

FSU Junior Wesley Mellone is on track to graduate debt free.

“With my parents funding my rent only and I’ll pay for my food, I’m able to graduate without any loans,” said Mellone.

He credits the Bright Future’s Scholarship program for his financial fortune.

“Bright Futures and a combination of other scholarships pay my tuition completely,” said Mellone.

Every year Wesley has been at FSU Bright Futures has been scaled back.

The program peeked in 2008 when the state awarded 429 million dollars worth of scholarships. Now, the cost to the state has fallen to 316 million and state lawmakers may look to Bright Futures once again to balance the budget.

Florida TaxWatch is recommending another 55 million dollar cut to the program.

TaxWatch released its annual cost savings recommendations. High on the list is limiting Bright Future to the top 10% of graduates from each school.

“It will help us achieve diversity within the state university system. It’ll help achieve predictability with the cost going forward because based on how many students we have in twelfth grade we know a certain percentage will be eligible for Bright Futures,” said Rob Weissert.

The recommendation is drawing the ire of House Democrats, long time opponents of any cuts to the popular scholarship program.

“If we continue to cut back the funds they don’t have the moneys to pay for the courses to go to school,” said Rep. Gwen Clarke-Reed.

Despite the recent run on the program, this year there’s a budget surplus which means the scholarship money may remain untouched.

TaxWatch is recommending several options to scale back Bright Futures. Limiting the scholarship to the top 10% of students in a school could save the state 55 million. Limiting the reward to the top 25% would save the state seven million.