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Amid student debt, how does Florida Bright Futures really help?

FGCU professor, former university president, says state-backed program favor students from wealthier backgrounds
Posted at 10:20 PM, Nov 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-27 22:46:54-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Student debt is a topic for millions of college students.

Florida Bright Futuresis a program where students who meet certain academic requirements in high school get scholarship money for college.

"It was to keep students in the state, that Florida already invested in K-12. It is successful in doing that," he said.

F. King Alexander, an Educational Leadership professor at FGCU worries those graduating college will be a generation of renters and not buyers.

"The merit based scholarship goes to students of merit who disproportionately are upper income and higher middle income students, and it's funded through the Florida lottery," Alexander said.

He thinks it's problematic because historically those who play the lottery are lower-income families. Florida nationally ranks average for higher education debt compared to other states when students don't use or qualify for this program.

"The typical Floridan student is looking at generally the national average is about 38,000 and it's approaching 40,000," he said.

Alexander says he believes the gap should come from federal lawmakers.

"The domino effect actually starts in Tallahassee and 49 other states in their state capitols, and that is that they are unwilling to provide the assistance to their public universities and colleges, to keep college affordability low," Alexander said.