Thousands of recent Florida high school graduates have another three months to earn the test scores they need to become eligible for Bright Futures scholarships.
With an after-hours executive order, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he had suspended the state rules for earning the required SAT or ACT score needed to receive the scholarship, which can cover the tuition and fees at many in-state institutions.
The Department of Education previously had extended the date to get the needed scores through the end of July. Even then, several teens still seeking to boost their results noted that many ACT testing sites canceled their July administration, and the first available SAT was not scheduled until late August.
The August date, which arrived over the past weekend, saw dozens of locations again cancel the testing because of coronavirus concerns.
That meant these students again could not attempt to qualify for the scholarship, which many have said represented their sole way to afford higher education. They have been fighting for their opportunity since the spring.
The new order gives students until Dec. 1.
Here is the text of the Executive Order:
STATE OF FLORIDA
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 20-212
WHEREAS, on March 1, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-51 directing the Florida Department of Health to issue a Public Health Emergency; and
WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring a state of emergency, which has been extended by Executive Orders 20-114 and 20-166; and
WHEREAS, the cost of providing distance learning resulted in some educational institutions imposing distance learning fees; and
WHEREAS, some students receiving Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Awards have been impacted by such fees; and
WHEREAS, due to the emergency, the spring and summer administrations of the ACT and SAT tests were cancelled, limited in availability, or not offered, impacting the ability of seniors graduating in 2020 to qualify for Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Awards; and
WHEREAS, the Florida Department of Education issued Emergency Order No. 2020-EO-05 to respond to the emergency by suspending certain statutes and rules governing awards earned under the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, allowing more seniors graduating in the spring of 2020 to complete their volunteer hours, and extending the deadline for students sitting for the ACT and SAT to July 31, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the College Board did not offer the SAT prior to July 31, 2020, thereby preventing recently graduated seniors from the opportunity to earn an award under the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program; and
WHEREAS, the ACT was offered over the summer in some places, but in many instances these tests were cancelled or reached capacity, thereby preventing some recently graduated seniors from the opportunity to earn an award under the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RON DESANTIS, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section (l)(a) of the Florida Constitution, Chapter 252, Florida Statutes, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order to take immediate effect:
Section 1. Florida Academic Scholars and Florida Medallion Scholars awards. Rule 6A-20.028(3)(g)1.d., F.A.C., is suspended in part, to allow students graduating in the 2019-2020 academic year, to earn at least the required minimum SAT and ACT scores as specified for each Bright Futures Scholarship award level in section 1009.531(6), F.S., no later than December 1, 2020. Sections of the SAT or ACT from different test dates may continue to be used to meet the test criteria through December 1, 2020, but test types cannot be mixed.
Section 2. Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars award. Rule 6A-20.028(3)(g)2., F.A.C., is suspended in part, to allow students graduating in the 2019-2020 academic year, to earn at least the minimum qualifying subtest scores from the Florida Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT), SAT, or ACT, as specified in rule 6A-10.0315, F.A.C., no later than December 1, 2020. Sections of the PERT, SAT, or ACT from different test dates may continue to be used to meet the test criteria through December 1, 2020, but test types cannot be mixed.
Section 3. Notwithstanding sections 1009.534(2), or 1009.535(2), Florida Statutes, for the summer 2020 term only, funds from any scholarship within the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program may be used to pay for distance learning fees charged by a Florida university up to the point that it is revenue neutral or represents a lowering of overall fees. This section only applies to fees associated with summer 2020 term courses.
Section 4. Except as modified by this order, DOE Order No. 2020-E0-05 remains in force.
Section 5. Expiration date. The expiration date of this Order shall correspond with Executive Order No. 20-52, and any extensions thereto, unless otherwise stated above.