FSU Freshman Derrick Scott wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for hard work and the six scholarships he won.
“There’s a lot of people here who’ve got money and I’m not one of them,” said Derrick.
Without the scholarships, Derrick would have stayed in Jacksonville. “I would have had to take out loans, and therefore I probably would have gone to a community college.”
Derrick’s the exception. According to student loan lender Sallie Mae, the percentage of college students with scholarships fell 10 points last year to 35 percent.
And Florida’s most popular scholarship isn’t immune to the reduction. Enrollment in Bright Futures is down because lawmakers raised the eligibility standards to save money.
Students who receive Bright Futures, like Sophomores Justine Fitzgerald and Haley Huston, are seeing the amount reduced.
“It’s less this year and I think it decreases a little bit every year,” said Justine.
“It also think about other states and I think we are really privileged as Floridians,” said Haley.
Dr. Ed Moore, President of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, says the decreasing scholarship money and rising tuition prices will force students to take fewer classes.
“Ultimately it will extend the time to degree, which ends up being more costly for everybody. It’s more costly for the state. It’s more costly for the student,” said Dr. Moore.
It will also force many students to take on more debt. Nationwide students have borrowed more than a trillion dollars.
The average Florida student who borrows to pay for school, graduates with more than 20-thousand dollars in debt.