Controversial bill that would cut Bright Futures funding for certain students is back on the table

Changes to the Bright Futures Scholarship have been met with pushback from lawmakers and students alike.

Originally, Senate Bill 86 proposed changes that would make some students not eligible for the scholarship depending on the degree field they chose to pursue. However, after much debate, lawmakers decided changes needed to be made. They’ll be discussing proposed amendments to the bill during Tuesday’s session. 

Before any changes were made, the original bill restricted financial aid under the Bright Futures program for students who choose to pursue degree fields that don’t lead directly to employment.

This means if a student didn’t choose to pursue a degree from the approved list of majors, they wouldn’t be eligible for the scholarship. That scholarship would only be available for those working towards a degree on the approved list in a career that would have more job openings. 

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But after much pushback, lawmakers made a few changes. Under those changes, the bill would create a list of degrees that do not lead to jobs. If a student still chose to select a degree that is on that list, they would receive a reduced Bright Futures Scholarship amount. This is a big change as previously they would not receive any aid at all if they chose certain majors. 

Under the changes, the Board of Governors would be in charge with coming up with the list of majors that do not lead to jobs, while also making information and data available to students to back up their claims.

Another major issue that many students had with the bill has to do with how much money they would receive. The bill would change aid provided from a tiered structure of either 75% or 100% of tuition covered, to instead tie aid to the amount set aside in the state budget. This means there is no guarantee on a certain percent of tuition being covered, and the money allocated for scholarships could change every year. However, despite the pushback on this portion of the bill, no changes have been proposed. 

If the bill is given the green light, it would not go into effect until the 2023-2024 school year. It also still needs to be approved by the Florida Senate before any changes are final.