Possible Changes Ahead to Bright Futures Scholarship

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For FSU junior Crystal Tulip, the Florida Bright Futures scholarship was one of the reasons she stayed in school. "It was, it helped a whole lot,” said Tulip. “I would have gone to college either way, but it definitely encouraged me to continue and not just stop you know, after one year or two years."

Wednesday, Representative Jimmie Smith proposed changes to the program, stating students who don’t graduate or who get a job outside of the of Florida should reimburse the state.

Many parents and students say the proposed changes are a bad idea, some saying that rather than encouraging students to stay in the state of Florida, the new plan would be a burden for students.

"My daughter is actually only able to attend the University of Florida because of the Bright Futures scholarship,” said Roy Mansfield, who currently has a freshman in college. “If that were not an option for her, I don't know what she would or would not have been able to do. It would have very radically effected if she would have attended college in Florida.”

"They're really struggling trying to find jobs and to force them to have to work in the state of Florida I just think is really unfair,” said Becky Culpepper who’s daughter is a junior attending North Bay Haven Charter School. If the changes pass, she’ll be among the first effected by the changes. “They're going to need a job you know to be successful, somewhere and it might be out of the state."

Current college students are happy they didn’t have to deal with the extra pressure to find a job in the state. Jordan McLendon, a student at the University of Florida is set to graduate this year.

"They want us to give it back to the state and I understand that, but there are a lot of people who haven't been able to get jobs in Florida in the fields that they majored in,” she said. “If you can get a better job in Georgia or Washington or wherever you choose to go I don't think that you should be restricted."

If passed, the changes would go into effect in 2014.

We reached out to Representative Smith regarding the bill and he issued a statement:

‘The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship was created to reward students for their high school academic achievement by providing funding for them to pursue post-secondary educational and career goals in Florida. HB 35 is a preliminary bill that aims to return the Bright Futures Scholarship to its original intent while fixing the brain drain issue in this State. I look forward to continue working with all responsible parties to create the best bill possible.”

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