In an attempt to reward some of the top Florida high school students and to help retain those students for college, the Florida State Senate recently passed the "Excellence in Higher Education Act". The bill is currently working its way through the Florida State House of Representatives. If passed, it would substantially increase "Bright Futures Scholarship" awards to Florida college students.
There are two main scholarships, the Florida Medallion Scholars and the Florida Academic Scholars, available
through the Bright Futures program. The criteria for those awards are as follows:
- Florida Medallion Scholars: Currently, a student must score 26 or better on the ACT, or 1170 or
better on the SAT, and have accumulated at least 75 community service hours prior to graduation in
order to qualify for up to $77 per credit hour. This would cover just over a third of the cost per credit hour for students at both the University of Florida and Florida State University.
- Florida Academic Scholars: A student must currently score 29 or better on the ACT, or 1290 or better
on the SAT, and have accumulated at least 100 community service hours prior to graduation in order to
qualify for up to $103 per credit hour, which is about half of the per-credit- hour fee charged by FL and FSU.
Education act, but students qualifying for the Academic Scholars scholarships would see a whopping increase
to 100% of the per-credit- hour fee! Additionally, students would receive a $300 annual stipend for school-
related expenses, such as textbooks. In addition, unlike what they receive under current stipulations, new
Academic Scholars will have tuition paid for summer classes as well as spring and fall classes. These changes
are not retroactive, so anybody who’s already receiving scholarship funds won’t see the increases, but newly
qualified students could receive funds by as early as July 1 of this year.
This program sounds like a “no-brainer” to address keeping Florida’s brightest students instate for their college
careers. There’s good evidence that it already has. According to a post on floridapoliticalreview.com,
Caitlyn Becker, a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School, is very
excited about this new opportunity. Becker, who plans to study Computer Engineering, was deciding between Georgia Tech and the University of Florida. But the potential for a full scholarship made that decision very clear — Becker recently
confirmed her seat in the University of Florida Class of 2021.
This legislation is an example of the types of positive legislation Tallahassee can produce that are positives for both our students and for the state colleges. Let's hope they keep up the good work and get these bills passed.