Ned Comm was thrilled when he found out his son Nolan wouldn’t have to pay for tuition or fees at UF because of the newest update to the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
The scholarship program will now pay 100 percent of tuition and fees for students who are Florida Academic Scholars, the highest level of Bright Futures, and provide $300 for textbooks.
However, this change will only apply for the 2017-18 school year.
“As a taxpayer and a parent who’s affected by this, I was not happy years ago when Bright Futures was reduced from its original intent, which was to provide affordable education to a wide number of people” Comm said.
Comm, a UF alumnus, said he feels like Bright Futures has done students a disservice over the last few years by making it harder for students to qualify while simultaneously decreasing the amount Bright Futures gives out each year.
The recent change, which was announced by UF on July 14, is expected to affect more than 16,000 UF students in the upcoming school year, wrote university spokesperson Steve Orlando in an email.
“For the 2017-18 award year (Fall/Spring) Bright Futures recipients at the Academic Scholar level will receive a total award of approximately $6,980,” Orlando said. “This represents a $3,890 increase over the original $3,090.”
While some are discouraged about the temporary change, Austin Gordon, a UF biology sophomore, said he is excited college is going to be more affordable for him and his family.
“I was really upset to hear that Rick Scott vetoed the bill that would have made this increase permanent, but I’m holding out hope that legislators will opt to include the increase in funding in their future budgets,” the 19-year-old said.
Samantha Garcia, a UF computer science sophomore, said she would have had to take out a $5,000 loan this year if it weren’t for the Bright Futures changes.
“One hundred percent is a lot, and that’s how much it should be, because that’s what you earned from doing well in school, right?” the 18-year-old said. “Not just 80 percent.”