TALLAHASSEE – (CBS4) – In what may be an unpopular political move, the state legislature is considering a proposal to reduce a popular merit-based scholarship program.
Florida’s Bright Futures program is one of the programs on the chopping block as legislators look to trim the state’s budget. The program funded through lottery money was launched in 1997 and doled out about $70 million in grants to high-achieving students. Today, that same program spends $437 million with the goal of preventing the state’s smartest students from leaving, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
The program is controversial because it awards the money regardless of how wealth the students’ parents are.
But the program doesn’t have as much money as lottery revenues continue to flatten and stimulus dollars that boosted the fund last year are no longer available this year.
Legislators are looking at two options – the proposal in the Florida Senate would reduce scholarships by $1,000 and the state House is considering a proposal that would raise the SAT score requirement by 200 points.
Some critics say the students who receive the Bright Futures scholarship don’t have a financial need. A study released by the Florida Department of Education found that as many as 56 percent of the students who received the scholarship do not have a financial need.
It’s a statistic that has caused some controversy.
“I have a lot of very rich wealthy friends who are having their kids get a free ride in college as a result of this,” Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón told The Herald. “That is wrong.”
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