Push to bolster college aid vetoed by Governor Scott

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By: Associated Press
June 14, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott is scuttling an effort to give college students extra help.

Scott on Wednesday vetoed an overhaul of the state's higher education system that is a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron.

The bill, SB 374, would require the state to cover 100 percent of tuition costs for top performing high school students who attend a state university or college.

Florida used to pay 100 percent of tuition for those eligible for the top Bright Futures scholarship, but it was scaled back during the Great Recession

Scott in his veto letter argues that the state budget he signed increases Bright Futures awards for the coming school year, but that change isn't permanent.

He said he vetoed the bill because he argued it would place too many restrictions on the state's 28 colleges.

By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
June 14, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- There could soon be good news for the parents of local college students; Bright Futures Scholarships are likely to receive a drastic boost in funding thanks to bill awaiting the Governor’s signature.

The increase in funding would cover full tuition for the scholarships top recipients.

For high school students to receive the top scholarship, they need to have a 3.5 weighted GPA, 100 Hours of community service and a 29 ACT score or a 1290 SAT score.

More than 750,000 students have gotten financial aid through Bright Futures since the program began in 1997.

“Having my mom dish out extra money would have been like a struggle for her so it definitely helped me out," Auvion Bradshaw, a FAMU student, told WCTV.

For many students like Giacomo Billisi, it’s helped ease the financial burdens of pursuing a higher education.

“Bright Futures was really important to me. Something I worked for my entire high school career and when I got it it helped me tremendously, go to college. I'm very low on any loans I've been taking out.”

The Bright Futures Academic Scholarship is the highest of three scholarships available. A bill now awaiting the Governor's signature would raise the payout for the the Academic Scholarship by 47%.

The increase in the Academic Scholarship and more state funding will cover the full cost of tuition, plus an additional $300 for books.

“I'm lucky enough that I could probably afford college if I didn't have it, but I know there are kids out there that wouldn't," said FSU student Jesse Grosman. "This would help thousands and thousands of kids.”

For the first time students would be able to use their bright futures scholarship to help pay for summer classes.

“That would help a lot so I could cut down these loans. I'm tired of taking out loans," Bradshaw continued.

Unlike the funding boost which only affects students at the Academic Scholarship level, the summer coverage will apply to everyone receiving Bright Futures.

“It would probably increase the population of kids who come up here and study during summer and that will actually help them graduate a lot quicker, which is one of our universities goals,” Billisi said.

Students already receiving the top scholarship will be grandfathered into the new payouts.

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