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Thursday, May 23, 2024

A state senator has proposed a bill to base financial awards from the Bright Futures scholarship program on students' majors.

Students studying science, technology, mathematics, education, engineering, nursing or pre-health would be the only students to fully benefit from the scholarship if state Sen. Jeremy Ring's recommendations are approved.

Ring's proposal would award students in those fields 110 percent of tuition and fees and $660 for expenses each academic year if their GPAs and SAT scores qualify them for the Florida Academic Scholars Award.

The scholarship normally covers 100 percent of students' tuition and fees based on GPAs and SAT scores regardless of academic majors.

For students majoring in other fields whose scores qualify them for the Florida Academic Scholars Award, scholarships would be reduced to cover 80 percent of tuition and fees and $475 for expenses per academic year.

Florida Medallion Scholars normally receive an award that covers 75 percent of their tuition and fees. Under Ring's bill, students who qualify for that award but do not major in the fields he specified would be eligible for having only 55 percent of their tuition and fees covered.

Students with the same qualifications who major in Ring's specified fields would have their scholarships bumped up to cover 85 percent of tuition and fees. Under the current rules of the Florida Medallion Scholar Award, 100 percent of tuition and fees for community college students is covered, but with Ring's changes, that amount would be dropped to 80 percent.

Melissa Ackert, a UF civil engineering senior, said the proposition would be convenient for her but unfair for nonscience majors.

"Their degrees are important too and cost the same thing," Ackert said. "It's not really a great idea."

Ring's bill would go into effect July 1 if approved by the state Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist. The Legislature's next regular session begins in March.

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