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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

GALLERY: Prom 2024
GALLERY: Prom 2024
April 7, 2024

Bright Futures: At Risk of Dimming

By Amber Haydar
Features Editor

Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships…The word echoes in the minds of all high school seniors throughout the nation, or more specifically, those concerned with the affordability of their higher education. Fortunately, for Florida residents that complete the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) by its deadline and qualify for awards, obtaining a college degree is made significantly more affordable. 

In addition to a recent increase in the Bright Futures requirement for the graduating class of 2021 (and all classes thereafter) when it comes to test score qualifications, Floridian high school seniors have faced yet another roadblock on the trek to a financially sensible education. 

The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship makes higher education financially sensible for millions of Florida residents. (Courtesy of International College Counselors)

High schoolers were rightfully furious upon hearing about the bill proposed by Florida Republican Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), with a portion of the legislation seeking to prohibit students from benefiting from Bright Futures if pursuing degrees deemed impractical by the Florida Senate. Filed on February 23rd, Senate Bill 86 would entail the compiling of a list of college majors that do not allegedly lead directly to employment. 

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Students pursuing degrees not included on the list would only receive state federal funding for credit hours equivalent to that of half of a typical bachelor’s degree, practically forcing students in these majors to have to switch majors in order to afford a higher education. Not only is this bill blatantly biased towards STEM students, but it places their counterparts studying liberal arts at a clear disadvantage and would be a bad move for Florida’s higher education system. 

In order to qualify for the Bright Futures scholarship, a high school senior must have maintained a high grade point average, as well as a higher standardized test score (unless a Cambridge diploma is obtained). With the recent increase of the test score requirement, and the lessened importance of these scores for students applying to college due to COVID, earning the Bright Futures scholarship has become increasingly difficult. Students in the latter portion of their senior year will often retake the test solely in order to earn 75 to 100 percent of their in-state tuition for free. By no means is this an easy feat.

Revoking certain students’ opportunity of receiving this financial aid based on their major, despite having put in the same amount of effort as the students that would receive the full extent of this award, is entirely unfair and lacks solid reasoning. For years now, Florida has kept their brightest students from leaving for college out-of-state with this very tactic. Receiving an arguably world-class education not far from home, practically for free, is a tough offer to pass for most prospective college students. In the event of this legislation’s passing, the Florida Public University System would undoubtedly feel the repercussions—not only financially speaking, but also in terms of educational ranking.

After receiving backlash for weeks from concerned students, parents, educators, and fellow congresspeople throughout the state of Florida. On March 22nd, Senator Baxley revised the bill to eliminate scholarship reductions, which caused the initial uproar amongst his constituents. The list of majors which meet congressional qualifications would still be created, but majors not included on this list would no longer receive financial penalties should SB86 pass through the Florida Senate. 

It seems as though the Florida Education Committee has perhaps come to their senses, or maybe they simply felt pressured to revert back for the sake of pleasing their constituents. Regardless of their motive, our criticism has provided a satisfactory result and voters should take note of this when it comes to future issues. 

The Florida Senate should have their own takeaway from this result: young adults are entirely aware of their worth and their importance to an institution, and are deserving of respect, no matter their intended major.

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Bright Futures: At Risk of Dimming