TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Senate committee approved a bill Friday that would impose tougher standards for getting a Bright Futures scholarship. Only Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, opposed the bill.
Among other things, the proposed overhaul of the program includes raising SAT requirements by up to 80 points, reducing the time a student has to use the money and restricting funding to classes the student needs to graduate.
"If we don't take these steps, there is no way we will have the money in the more challenging years, the next two years ahead," said state Sen. Evelyn Lynn, a Republican from Ormond Beach who heads the committee.
Representatives from Florida A&M University and the State College System, among others, spoke in favor of the bill.
"We know our students, and our students will be impacted," said Tom Furlong, interim president of St. Petersburg College and a representative of the State College System. "But the time has come for tough decisions, and we support your efforts."
Gelber said he voted against the bill as a matter of principle. He said he didn't think enough money was allocated in the budget for higher education, given the number of people who are trying to earn higher degrees in light of a down economy.
The Senate proposal would mandate students have a 1290 SAT score or 29 ACT for a full scholarship in the 2013-14 school year. They currently need a 1270, plus a 3.5 high school grade average. The requirement for a partial scholarship would rise to 1050 SAT, or a 23 ACT, rather than the current 970 SAT or 20 ACT.