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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

With less than three weeks left of classes for the semester, some of you are getting ready to head home, backpack through Europe or earn some cash with a summer job. But there is an unfortunate group of Gators stuck in Gainesville (or attending another state university as a transient student) to fulfill the state requirement of Summer semester classes. A moment of silence, please.

Now, we at the Alligator are not saying summer in Gainesville is entirely awful. But what totally sucks about summer isn’t extra-long classes, blistering heat or freezing-cold classrooms, but rather the fact that Bright Futures doesn’t cover tuition for summer classes — classes we are required to take.

Currently, every student who attends a Florida state university is required to take nine credits during the summer in order to graduate. We get it: The state wants to find a way to ensure attendance during Summer classes doesn’t completely plummet. But not only is it absolute malarky to force us to take classes in the summer when we could be taking advantage of study-abroad or internship opportunities, it’s ridiculous these classes are not covered by Bright Futures.

College is hard. It’s even harder when you have to pay your way through school, especially when some financial help, such as Bright Futures, doesn’t cover everything. With each credit costing $212.71, that’ll cost you $1,914.39 in tuition for nine credits during the summer, according to the Fall 2015-2016 cost of attendance. And that’s not including all the books, food and rent you’ll have to pay for the summer, considering most apartment complexes in Gainesville require yearlong leases — but that’s a complaint for a different day.

The only students allowed to receive Bright Futures benefits during the Summer are those in the Innovation Academy. For these students, the Fall semester functions as a traditional Summer semester. However, the Innovation Academy does not require its students to take classes during the Fall, specifically so they can take advantage of opportunities for internships, study abroad, etc. Funny how that works.

State universities, or at least UF, clearly understand the advantages to having a semester off to pursue extracurricular interests or professional development, as evidenced by the Innovation Academy’s structure. However, why doesn’t this apply to more traditional students? The answer, it would seem, is purely a financial one.

Of course we understand that at the core, universities are businesses, and businesses by definition need to make money. But the universities don’t technically stand to lose anything because the money funding Bright Futures comes from the state. So it seems to us that institutions supposedly existing to provide an education for all pupils, regardless of background or income, should not require academically excellent in-state students to pay out of pocket for a semester that isn’t even necessary to graduate in most cases.

We would love to suggest Bright Futures cover Summer semester classes, but we understand the impracticality of this. With the amount of money awarded by Bright Futures already shrinking, adding another semester of study to cover for thousands of students would be unreasonable. So if that option is off the table, universities need to adapt and revise the Summer semester requirement policy. In a financial world where many students need all the help they can get, being forced to pay out of pocket for a required, and sometimes unnecessary, semester is unfair.

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