Bright Futures May Be Used for Summer College Education

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

It’s a frustration for many parents and college students. The state makes you take at least one semester of summer courses, but won’t let you use the state’s Bright Futures scholarships to pay for those classes.

A new bill advancing at the Capitol could make it easier for more young people to get through college.

Britney Whitaker is attending Florida State University on a Bright Futures Scholarship she earned with good grades. The college junior knows she’s lucky to also have financial support from her parents, but it still bothers her that her scholarship can’t be used for summer courses she has to take.

"My parents just pay for it out of pocket during the summer, but it’s still a waste of money when you actually have a scholarship that should cover it."

A bill that would change the rules and let college students apply their Bright Futures money to summer classes just cleared its first Senate committee, but the bill’s sponsor knows she’s got her work cut out for her. This could be the tightest budget hear Florida has faced recently and the proposal has a $50 million price tag.

Supporters think the bill could actually save the state money by helping ease the crunch at overcrowded schools during the fall and spring semesters.

With just 60 percent of students achieving degrees even after six years, Senate sponsor Evelyn Lynn says making college more accessible is in everyone’s best interest. The more students we have going in, the more benefits we will have as a state. They have greater self-sufficiency, great job skills that they will have for when they go out into the workplace.

Still, with critical health care needs and the governor’s demands for additional tax cuts, anything that costs extra money this year faces a tough road ahead.

The bill to allow students to use Bright Futures scholarships to pay for summer courses has one more committee to clear before it can go before the full Senate for a vote.

More than 140,000 students attend college in Florida on Bright Futures Scholarships.

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