Financial aid from the government will always be of some benefit to students who wish to attend college and earn a degree but without the high price tag. But can the government also deem which students they will financially support based on what major they chose? 

This was the major debate for Florida lawmakers in the past couple of months. Florida has a scholarship system called “Bright Futures”, which will cover either 75% or 100% of a student’s tuition for a bachelor’s degree if they chose to attend a Florida college or university. This is no easy task. Students need to have at least a GPA of 3.00, 75 community service hours, and either a 25 ACT or 1210 SAT score to qualify. The Bright Futures program is currently funded by the Florida lottery. 

Republican Senator Dennis Baxley of Ocala filed a bill that would completely alter the Florida Bright Futures bill. A major part of this was that the Board of Education would compile a list of majors that would “lead directly to employment.” What does this mean? It means the government would decide what majors are worthy of being funded for in the state. A student who wanted to pick a major such as international studies would not receive funding opposed to a law or business student. Thankfully, after much opposition from students, educators, and individuals alike, this section of the bill was removed after it cleared the Senate floor on April 8th

There is still another major problem with this bill: the funding. As I stated before, the Florida lottery provides the funding for this bill. The Florida Lottery contributed $1.9 million to the program last year. Senator Baxley’s bill wants the funding to come from the state budget, meaning the taxpayers potentially. This leaves so much uncertainty with how much funding the Bright Futures Scholarship will receive. 

Florida governor Ron DeSantis even seemed to oppose the bill: “I think Bright Futures is something that Florida families have relied upon…It’s something that I support. I fully funded it in my budget, and we hope the Legislature follows suit on that as well.” I agree with his stance completely. As someone who has relied on the Bright Futures scholarship myself, it is frustrating to hear that future college students may not have guaranteed funding for their schooling that truly deserve it. So many students rely on this program to receive an education, and I do not think this should be a partisan issue. And if it gets to the point where the funding comes from the taxpayers, this is something I’d want my paycheck to go towards. 

Ivey Y