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Sunday, May 16, 2021

To all you Florida residents, please take a valuable lesson from your neighbor to the north: Don't let your legislators change anything about Bright Futures.

It's an awesome program that opens doors for many students who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford college. I'm sure more than one student here at UF is nearly dependent upon Bright Futures, and even those that aren't can surely appreciate the value.

But you know what's not awesome? The program Bright Futures was modeled after. We Georgia natives know it as Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally, or HOPE, though perhaps HOPEless might be a better term.

The grading standards for HOPE were recently adjusted. This made the required B average grade harder to get. And as a result, many Georgia students will not be able to afford to attend college. Now that's a shame.

As it was, HOPE gave a kind of second chance to high-school students who were late bloomers academically. In many cases, mediocre high school students excel in college. Plus, there is plenty of money to support the numerous students the program supports. HOPE is paid for by the Georgia Lottery, which has recently experienced record sales.

Some might say the state shouldn't have to pay out so much money in scholarships. Better yet, the students should just "try harder." I say that's a load of crap.

This is a Georgia issue now, but Florida legislators are plotting similar schemes to try to deny students coverage. Do not let that happen.

Education is of the utmost importance to the growth and development of every community, state and nation. Gov. Charlie Crist seems stalwart in his efforts to prevent tuition raises. Still, he can only do so much.

Officials are trying to null Bright Futures' effectiveness by simply going around it. In July the state's university oversight board voted to raise tuition in the spring. The problem is, as of now Bright Futures will not be recalibrated to keep up with the increase, and the people responsible for this are fully aware of it.

You think UF students won't eventually feel the pressure as well? Dream on.

Whether they decrease funding or simply let it lag behind ever-increasing tuitions, Bright Futures will be facing some serious tribulations in the near future.

It is the duty of Florida students to resist any attempts to limit Bright Futures. Many of you know what it's like to barely afford college. If anyone, you should understand the threats that will soon face your educations.

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This isn't something you can afford to be apathetic about. HOPE is already becoming hopeless. Don't let it put a shadow over Bright Futures.

Daniel Burroughs is a sophomore majoring in journalism.

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