Senate higher ed plan zeroes in on affordability, accountability, on-time graduation
Florida Sen. Bill Galvano filed two major components of the Senate’s higher education plan on Wednesday, highlighting college affordability, accountability and on-time graduation, among a litany of other goals.
The bills, which come a day after Gov. Rick Scott outlined his higher education priorities for the coming Legislative session, share in Scott’s push for a more affordable path to graduation, but diverge in some of the details.
Senate Bill 2, the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act,” would expand financial assistance for students and establish tuition and fee incentives for universities. It would expand the highest level of the merit-based Bright Futures scholarship program to cover the entire cost of tuition and fees — including summer classes — for top achievers, called “academic scholars.” Those students would also get $300 for textbooks and other expenses in the fall and spring terms.
Senate Bill 2 would also expand other scholarships, streamline 2+2 articulation and strengthen accountability measures for colleges and universities.
Senate Bill 4 gives universities more financial leverage to recruit and keep “star faculty,” improve professional and graduate schools (especially in the fields of medicine, law and business), and address aging infrastructure and research labs. It also asks universities to identify internship opportunities for students so they can learn from experts and get jobs in high-demand fields.