Senate Bill 86 (SB86) was recently introduced in the Florida Senate. If passed, this would impact student eligibility for the Bright Futures Scholarship, which currently provides students with college financial aid based on high school academic achievement.
SB 86 would require state Board of Governors and Board of Education to approve a list of career certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs that “lead directly to employment.” Beginning with the 2022/2023 school year, the amount of financial aid students could receive would depend on if their selected major is on the approved list. If a student were to choose a different major, their funding could be cut off after 60 credit hours.
The bill would limit the amount of funding students could receive by taking AP exams or dual enrollment classes in high school, as well as those attending an AICE, Cambridge or IB programs, thus decreasing the overall amount of financial aid students could receive. It will also impact those currently in college who have applied for and received the aid.
Concerns with the bill
- The Bright Futures Scholarship Program has been in existence since 1997, and many families have come to rely on this funding to pay for their child’s college education.
- The scholarship helps prevent “brain drain” but keeping high performing students in the state. Reducing the amount of benefits might encourage more students to attend colleges out of state, which impacts Florida’s economy.
- The bill would force students to select a major before applying for the scholarship. Not all students are ready to select a major at this time. Many benefit from attending a semester or two of college courses and meeting with college-level career counselors to select the career path that’s the best fit for them.
- The state groups responsible for creating the approved list of degree programs are not typically trained in workforce development, and may not have the most updated information about the degrees employers seek. This information also varies widely among companies and industries.
- The bill would provide no consistency for the program, leading to confusion about the eligibility and application process.
Florida PTA will likely have a Call to Action with additional talking points once the bill has a House companion and moves further along in the legislature. In the meantime, you can track the bill and take action now:
- A statewide group of students was created to track and oppose the bill. Click here to learn more and join the effort and sign their petition.
- Alliance for Public Schools also has a link that will allow you to contact the Governor, your state representatives, and the Senate Education Committee.
National PTA supports legislation and programs intended to increase postsecondary participation through assisting students’ secondary school completion and postsecondary enrollment by providing academic (which includes fine arts) services, parent and student counseling services, and college preparatory services, particularly those programs that will assist students with different learning styles, low-income students, and disadvantaged youth. National PTA also supports legislation and programs that foster an economically, culturally, and ethnically diverse student population by increasing federal grants to students and other forms of financial aid, simplifying the application process for applying for all forms of aid, improving and increasing access to information on financial assistance for postsecondary education, and expanding access to instate tuition levels.