TALLAHASSEE — Bright Futures Scholarships, which give top high school graduates a free ride to Florida universities, won't be targeted for change this year, the state's top university system official said Thursday.
University presidents and others have said the scholarships are costing the state too much and, with the state facing financial difficulties, officials have contemplated capping the program.
Students with a 3.5 grade point average and good test scores are eligible for full scholarships. Students with 3.0 GPAs and good scores can get partial rides.
So many students are earning the scholarships that the universities aren't collecting much tuition from in-state students. For example, last year, 89 percent of Florida State University's in-state freshmen were on Bright Futures Scholarships.
As recently as last week, university system officials were discussing a change in eligibility — possibly more need-based, for example.
But the universities chancellor Mark Rosenberg said Thursday he is removing the issue from the Board of Governor's agenda.
Bright Futures costs the state roughly $350-million a year.
One lawmaker who had planned to take on the program, Sen. Jeremy Ring, said he realized quickly that it would be nearly impossible. He had proposed targeting scholarships to fields that are in need, such as nursing or education, or shifting some of the scholarships to loans.
"It's a sacred cow," said Ring, D-Boca Raton.