Is Bright Futures at odds with state's economic plans?
Bright Futures is one of the hottest political potatoes around the Capitol, with lawmakers saying the scholarship program is vital to ensuring more educated students graduate into Florida's increasingly high-tech workforce needs.
But an FSU researcher presenting his studies at an annual conference this week says the GPA requirements for keeping the scholarship all four years might encourage students to pick "easier" degree programs - think English or philosophy vs. chemistry or engineering. And that won't necessarily help Florida become the biotech research hub lawmakers talked about all session.
Associate FSU prof Shouping Hu found that two years before Bright Futures, 47.5 students enrolled in public colleges here went into science, technology, math and engineering fields. Two years after, the number dropped to 38.5 percent.
Hu writes in his study: "Merit-based financial aid using college GPA as a criterion for renewal could provide incentives for students not to choose degree programs in science and engineering so that they have a better chance to qualify for the merit-based financial aid."