By Sadie Dodds
On May 8, Florida Senate Bill, SB-86, was passed through the Senate and into the House. The Bill includes changes to the Florida scholarship program, Bright Futures. Among other things, the passing of this bill will require several educational boards to approve a list of acceptable majors for students using the scholarship. The basic requirement of acceptable majors will be whether or not they lead directly to employment.
The bill was originally filed on February 28, and it took many meetings and debates before finally being voted on. The vote was close with 22 yeas (for passing) and 18 nays (against passing).
This bill has many Florida parents and students worried. For the past 19 years, the Bright Futures Scholarship Program has provided over $1 billion dollars to Florida students. With this bill passed, the program will greatly restrict the possibilities for said students, and possibly result in certain students being unable to use the scholarship at all.
The outcry against SB-86 has been loud and some people have actually organized protests against the bill, marching down streets to local government buildings holding signs reading things like “Save Bright Futures” and “Stop SB86.”
Aside from majors, SB-86 threatens other aspects of Bright Futures. A section of the bill requires that the awards be based on Florida’s annual budget (which changes every year), meaning that the amount of money each student receives will almost never be consistent. This would imply that there is no guarantee that the money from Bright Futures will cover all the expensenses of attending college. If you wish to read SB-86 yourself, you can find the PDF here.