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Woman worried changes in Bright Futures funding could jeopardize her son's scholarship

Posted at 8:52 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 19:49:59-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY — A Charlotte County woman is raising concerns about a bill that would affect the Bright Futures scholarship program.

Christina Hester tells us, if Senate Bill 86 is passed into law, it could jeopardize her son’s tuition. She said her son Jonah worked hard and earned a full-ride to the University of Florida. The Bright Futures program requires at least a 3.5 GPA, at least a 1330 on the SAT (or at least a 29 on the ACT), and 100 hours of community service.

"He did not even apply to out of state universities knowing that his undergraduate degree was going to be free," said Hester.

So Hester said she was shocked when State Senator Dennis Baxley announced SB 86, which would change how Bright Futures is funded.

"What we’re doing is, instead of putting numbers in a bill for these different categories, we’re moving that over to appropriations where, that’s where the dollars get allocated," said State Sen. Baxley in a committee hearing on March 16th.

That means, the Appropriations Committee would determine the funding for the scholarships on a yearly basis, instead of the funding coming from the Florida Lottery. That means Jonah’s full-ride could change.

"We don’t know what he’ll be receiving for his sophomore, junior, and senior years. That’s a problem," said Hester.

But Hester thinks this could also affect future students trying to decide where they want to go to school.

"If you don’t have that guaranteed funding, I can’t imagine that you’d want to stay in-state if you can get guaranteed funding elsewhere," said Hester.

The bill has already passed the Florida Senate, and it could be heard by the Florida House of Representatives this week.