POINT OF VIEW Bright Futures program critical to students’ success

A college education is one of the most sought after goals for Florida students. A degree opens many doors in today’s global job market and gives students the ability to pursue the careers they want to be in. Unfortunately, too many students are unable to attend college due to an inability to afford the rising costs of college tuition.

To combat this, the Florida Legislature created the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program in 1997, to help high-performing high school students achieve their dreams of going to college. The scholarship program, funded primarily by the Florida Lottery, has been awarded to more than 750,000 students since its implementation.

At times, the Legislature has had to scale back the program due to other critical budget priorities but lawmakers, including Senate President Joe Negron, have made it a priority to increase access and funding to Bright Futures for our students during the 2017 legislative session. With the state experiencing significant economic growth and the Florida Lottery announcing that it has generated more than $1 billion for education for the past 15 consecutive fiscal years, there is no better time than now to increase funding and access to Bright Futures for our students.

One popular idea being tossed around the halls of the Capitol is full tuition coverage for those who earned the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship in addition to a book stipend. The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship is awarded to the highest-achieving students in Florida schools. Other bills include allowing students to use Bright Futures during summer term, and changing SAT and ACT requirements to increase the pool of eligible students, among others.

Thanks to the efforts of the Florida Lottery, whose contributions represent 6 percent of the state’s total education budget, students are able to reach for the stars and obtain their dreams of higher education. A great job starts with a great education. The Florida Lottery’s Bright Future Scholarship program makes it that much easier.


Editor’s note: Dominic M. Calabro is the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

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