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Bright Futures act could lower test score requirements, include summer and textbook costs

Pierce Turner

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Hicks Hall where One Stop student financial services is located. Photo courtesy of Chartwells

Bright Futures requirements could become more merciful if a bill filed by Senator Carlos Guillermo Smith gets passed.

The bill, titled the Restore our Bright Futures Act, aims to lower the test scores of the SAT and ACT required by students to be granted a Bright Futures scholarship. The scores required last year were 1290 and 27 for the SAT and ACT respectively to receive UNF’s silver level scholarship, but with the bill Senator Smith intends to lower those to 1270 and 26 by 2020.

“Starting in 2010, Republicans leaders hiked standards, which slashed the number of Bright Futures recipients in half and shut out a disproportionate number of black and Latino students from the program,” said Smith in a press release. “We have seen enough cuts to higher education in this legislature. The time is now to reinvest and expand the Bright Futures scholarship to make good on Florida’s commitment to affordable college for everyone.”

UNF Director of Student Financial Aid, Anissa Agne, said that these scores could be even lower because of a change in the SAT. According to Agne, the SAT has undergone a massive overhaul that essentially made it a different test, called the Redesigned SAT. The scoring of the test has similarly changed and scales differently. For example, a 1290 on the new test is equal to a 1220 on the old one.

The expansion of scholarships would also add $200-$300 for textbook costs, both of which were previously phased out by Republican leaders. Smith also hopes to bring back the 100 percent and 75 percent reimbursement for academic and merit based scholarships respectively.

Currently, $100 is given per credit hour for academic and $75 for merit students. Tuition costs $215 per semester at UNF, so only about 50 percent of tuition is covered by Bright Futures scholarships but it would be doubled if the bill gets passed.

Summer courses could also get coverage. Right now, scholarships don’t cover Summer courses and UNF still has a nine Summer credit hour requirement. Anissa Agne is particularly excited about this part of the bill.

“That would be huge for our students,” said Agne. “Generally there’s no other aid available to any students who want to attend summer. It’s challenging for students who want to attend over the summer and don’t have any funds.”

“The original intent of bright futures was to encourage our brighter students to come to state universities and stay in the state of florida and restoring it would definitely bring us closer back to the original intent,” said Agne.

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Bright Futures act could lower test score requirements, include summer and textbook costs