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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Students across the state have joined to tell the Legislature one thing - don't mess with the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.

A bill to base the scholarship program's awards on students' majors was proposed by Florida Sen. Jeremy Ring in January.

If passed, Ring's bill would award 10 percent more tuition coverage to those studying science, technology, mathematics, engineering, nursing or healthcare. Students in other majors would have their scholarships decreased by 20 percent.

Will Anderson, a UF English junior, created a Facebook group called "Protect Your Bright Futures" and is encouraging students to write letters to Florida senators asking them to strike the bill.

More than 7,000 people have joined the online group since Friday. Anderson said he expects hundreds of letters to start flooding senators' offices on Thursday and Friday.

"This is something (the senators are) being watched on," he said.

Although Ring said his proposal would only affect incoming students if it passes, Anderson said that promise isn't clear in the bill.

"Comments made to the newspaper aren't legally binding," Anderson said. "If a senator says the sky is red it doesn't make it so."

Ring said if that detail wasn't clear in the bill, he would fix it. Regardless, he said he's not surprised some students are upset about his suggestions.

He said he would meet with student government representatives from state schools this week to hear feedback. Even with changes, Florida would offer students the best education deal in the country, he said.

"Everyone is getting a scholarship," Ring said. "No one is taking a scholarship away. I'd be the first to stand up and ensure that Bright Futures doesn't go away."

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