If you're a Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholars recipient, you can plan on getting about one less textbook for free next semester, thanks to budget cuts.
The scholarship has traditionally provided ,300 for "college-related expenses," which was intended to pay for textbooks. No more.
Now students across the state will only get ,225, and in future semesters, the stipend will depend on how the budget looks for that year.
OK, so those scholarship recipients get to go to school for free (at least for tuition). But for the people who depend on that extra ,300 to help out with the cost of textbooks, this is a bit of a punch in the gut. UF's Office for Student Financial Affairs already gave students their estimated financial awards for the spring 2008 semester - now that's all wrong. And we're willing to bet nothing will step in to cover that ,75.
It doesn't make sense for Florida to put the law into effect in the middle of the academic year. If legislators had waited until the fall, that would have made this bitter pill a lot easier to swallow.
But this cut won't fix the problems plaguing Bright Futures and the state budget. It already won't cover some tuition increases, namely the Tuition Differential fee.To really start saving some money, Bright Futures needs to raise its requirements for scholarships.
This stipend slashing is just a temporary fix to a problem that isn't going anywhere. We know we won't ever be seeing that ,75, but with any luck, the Bright Futures program can be fixed before another several thousand students get screwed over - because if nothing changes now, the next time the program gets cut might be worse.