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Florida lawmakers reverse college scholarship cuts and changes after parent’s backlash student

Florida lawmakers retreated most of their plans to buy their beloved tertiary scholarship program after a major counterattack from students and parents.

More than 110,000 college students were awarded the Bright Futures Merit Scholarship in 2020, but that number could drop significantly after Senator Dennis Baxley introduced Senate Bill 86, his proposal said. Only students enter a field that they believe will be highly prized. Paid jobs can be awarded that pay between 75 and 100 percent of in-state tuition at public and private universities.

If the exam passes SB 86 it will leave students wanting to study art history or English without the funds for scholarships that have been part of Florida̵

7;s tertiary education system since 1990.Students feel like they are being forced to choose between funding. Education with academic interests

“It was devastating,” said 16-year-old high school student Alexander Valdez of the proposal. “A politician said my dream was not worth the money.”

The merit-based scholarship is funded by the state lottery and is awarded to high achieving students based on a combination of high school credits, standardized test scores, volunteer hours, and grade point average since. In 1997, the state gave students more than $ 2.8 million to $ 6.8 billion. But the proposed reduction does not stop at the major limitation – SB 86 will reduce the aid provided to students who have previously taken college or Advanced Placement programs in high school, and will reduce the amount awarded to. Other qualifications for scholarships.

Valdez was not alone in his rage. Students, parents, arts groups and others say that SB 86 will destroy programs it has in place in some cases that do not have access to the state’s best student educational opportunities. Students who are on the program say they are blindfolded, as are high school students planning all secondary education on scholarships.

“If our study is messy, our ideas and information should also be considered,” Valdez said.

He and a group of teenagers from Orlando and Tallahassee jumped into the action. They built a “Save Bright Futures” website that provides information about what happened and how to help. Annotating the bill to reach a broader audience, they have set their share and encouraged fellow Floridians to sign a petition, call their representatives and go to hearings. Senate and testify

Kaylee Duong, 18, who helped organize the Save Bright Futures campaign, said the proposed changes put her in a tough spot, Elder Duong was trying to decide where to go to study. Both of her brothers were scholarship recipients, and as she passed middle and high school, her family made sure she met the requirements so that she could receive the scholarship as well. SB 86 made Duong consider an out-of-state college like More serious, where she thought her financial aid could be more secure.

“It’s safe to say that if this doesn’t happen, it’ll be a much easier option, and I’m likely going to go into college,” she said, not defeating Duong as part of Bright Futures’ point of prevention. Brain drain and maintain the state’s smartest student home.

One of Duong’s colleagues, Lorenzo Urayan, who wanted to attend an art school, began to worry that he would not be able to fund his college unless he had studied something the state legislature saw. That is more “practical” under the proposed changes.

“I think both STEM and the humanities are important,” Urayan, 17, said. “It’s unfair for politicians to decide what you should study.”

The Horoscope and Urayan were not alone in their wickedness. In his letter to other state senators in March announcing the withdrawal of the most controversial change, Baxley wrote: “We have awakened the giants.”

High school students Heesu Seo, Thomas Truong, Alexandro Valdez and Shaheer Ali at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, where they persuaded legislators to help with the Bright Futures scholarship on March 18.Courtesy Shaheer Ali

Good things are not perfect

While Baxley’s withdrawal from the Amendment was a major win for students fighting to save their scholarships, sponsors and other lawmakers said the battle was underway.

“It’s not a good bill,” said Democrat Anna Eskamani, a Bright Futures recipient, when she was still in college.

Some lawmakers in the council are proposing cuts to textbook wages on scholarships, saving $ 37 million.

“Big changes are not on the schedule right now,” Eskamani said, “but students who need textbooks deserve that access.”

The program itself isn’t perfect either. Black students make up more than 21 percent of Florida’s K-12 student population, but only 6 percent of Bright Futures recipients are black. And while white students compromise 36 percent of all students, they make up more than half of the scholarship recipients every year since the program’s inception.

Scholars have found that state-provided charitable aid often provides funds to already disadvantaged students and is not focused on improving access for disadvantaged students, says Justin Ortagus, director of the institution of higher education. At the College of Education of the University of Florida.

Ortagas, who is the recipient of the scholarship himself, said that does not mean the philanthropic assistance program will not achieve its intended purpose.

“We have to be honest about what we prioritize and how to get help, not a mechanism to close the fair gap, a program like Bright Futures” which means a lot to the state because the goal is to maintain the best possible condition. And brightest it at home so they can contribute to the local economy and increase the reputation of local institutions, Ortagus said.

While the program is clearly not aimed at helping low-income students. But it has helped many, including Ortagus, who grew up with a low income and went to the school he now teaches at 100 percent of his tuition.

SB 86, he suspects there will be But the escalating inequality, which is endemic to many philanthropic aid programs.

The students who helped fight to save the scholarship said they knew it was not perfect, and that successful experience lobbying the state legislature to help Bright Futures gave them the courage to fight for equal higher education. More common in Florida.

“Bright futures tend to have fewer black and brown receivers because of SAT requirements,” said Thomas Truong, 16-year-old organizer of Save Bright Futures. A small group

“We want education to be accessible to everyone,” he said, now he feels he can be the voice of making that happen.

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