MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The future could possibly be a little dimmer for some of Florida’s upcoming high school seniors who plan to apply for the Bright Futures scholarship.

That’s because the student aid program, that made it more affordable for some to earn a higher education in Florida, is cutting back.

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According to Florida College Access Network, the number of scholarships recipients will drop by half – that’s’ about 20,000 less students who were rewarded last year. If cuts continue, an estimate of about 80,000 students will miss out on $347 million in scholarships.

The March 2014 Florida Office of Economic & Demographics’ Student Financial Aid Estimating Conference predicted that by 2017-18, Bright Futures will be reduced to $180 million.

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The program’s cutback will mean that college students, or parents, will have to pay higher costs or even take out loans to attend school.

So far, only 21,340 of this year’s 180,129 high school graduates are likely to meet eligibility criteria for Bright Futures, which is less awards given than when the program first started in 1997.

“If these sweeping cuts to financial aid are enforced as scheduled, our state will find itself at a competitive disadvantage,” said Florida C.A.N.! senior researcher and policy analyst Troy Miller. “We need to take steps forward, not backward, in growing Florida’s talent pool, including fully leveraging our state’s financial aid resources to encourage and accelerate access and attainment of postsecondary education and training.  If we do not, Florida students and their families will soon face a new and unfortunate reality when it comes to college affordability.”

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For more information on Bright Futures Scholarship Program, click here.